Town Crier Sports Staff
Zac DeSanto scored just five points in Izard County Consolidalted's 59-49 quarterfinal victory Saturday night over Buffalo Island Central, but the 5'9" junior's three pointer with one second left in the first half gave the Cougars the shot in the arm they needed as ICC advanced to the semi-finals of the 60th annual Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament.
BIC led for almost the entire first half, holding a 12-8 lead after the first period before pushing their lead to 20-14 with 3:30 left before intermission. ICC began their comeback on an inside bucket by Scott Small, a short jumper from James Morgan, and another inside basket by Small to tie the score 20-20 at the 1:11 mark.
After a Mustang miss, the Cougars played for the last shot of the half and DeSanto banged home a 25-footer to give ICC a 23-20 halftime lead and a big dose of momentum heading into the locker room.
BIC came out in the third quarter and scored the first four points to grab their last lead of the game at 24-23. But ICC regained the lead for good when Small banked home a five footer to put the Cougars up 25-24 with 6:51 left in the third period.
Lance Davis kept the Mustangs in the game by powering his way to 20 points, mostly on moves around the basket. But the Cougars turned up their defensive pressure and came away with several steals that produced breakaway baskets as ICC took a 41-35 lead into the final frame.
DeSanto started the fourth quarter with a steal and a lay-up, and following a Lance Davis basket, Kyle McCandlis duplicated DeSanto's feat to keep the Cougars up by six, 45-39.
Another inside basket by Davis pulled the Mustangs to 49-44 with 3:07 remaining, but the Cougars knocked down 10-10 free throws down the stretch to pull away with the win.
ICC placed three players in double figures, led by Joey Stefka, who finished with 13 points, while McCandlis and Small had 12 and 11 points respectively. The Cougars iced the win by making 18-20 free throws for the game.
Davis was joined in double figures for BIC as Garrett Qualls scored 12 points and Jordan Phillips added 10. Terry Roach was the only other Mustang to reach the scoring column, finishing with seven points. BIC also had a hot night from the foul line, going 16-18. The Mustangs hit two treys on the night.
BIC will return to action Jan. 2 when they host Paragould before capping off the week with a 2A-3 conference tilt with Bay at Monette.