Lady Mustangs capture Regional title

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Town Crier Sports Staff

It was quite a week for the Buffalo Island Central Lady Mustangs. The Mustangs stampeded through the 2A North Regional Tournament at Rector in impressive fashion, taking home the Regional Championship while earning a number one seed in this week's state tournament in Danville with a convincing 76-55 romp over Bay Saturday night.

It looked as though the Cinderella Bay Lady Yellowjackets might pull off the upset when they jumped to a 21-15 first period lead, but the Lady Mustangs rallied in the second quarter behind Regional Tournament Most Valuable Player Jessica Shepard, who drilled three of BIC's four second quarter treys, giving BIC a 37-31 halftime advantage.

The Mustangs came out smoking in the third stanza, scoring the first nine points to push the BIC lead to 46-31. The Lady Mustangs continued to build on their lead and pulled ahead 60-41 when Shepard ripped another trey with 1:24 remaining in the quarter. Bay's Laci Staton managed a conventional three point play to cut the BIC lead to 60-44 heading into the final quarter, but that was as close as the Lady Jackets would get.

"We started out in a zone defense because I thought our legs would be tired, having played three nights in a row," said BIC Coach Stan Fowler. "Tonight was a total team effort. We played virtually everyone and that really helped us out tonight. I was really worried about foul trouble early on, but we turned up the pressure on defense and it worked real well for us. I thought that was where the momentum changed in the game."

Shepard led all scorers with 29 points, including five three pointers. Kasey Garrett scored 14 points while Sammi Fowler also hit double figures with 12 points. Ashley Tate netted seven, Lauryn Smith tallied six while Jordan Miller came off the bench to contribute five points. Amber Smithee added three points to round out the scoring attack for the Mustangs. BIC drilled nine treys on the night and was 17-24 from the foul line. The Lady Mustangs shot a blistering 9-12 from the field in the decisive third quarter run.

Bay was led by Staton, who scored 15 points, while Natasha Coffey pitched in 14. The Lady Yellowjackets hit 16-27 from the foul line and made three treys on the night.

BIC reached the finals with a tough 69-62 semi-final win over Rector to even the season series between the two schools.

The Lady Mustangs jumped out of the gate early, scoring the first 11 points on their way to a 21-13 first quarter advantage. BIC led by as many as 11 points in the second quarter before Rector battled back to cut the halftime deficit to 34-29.

It was Rector that came out smoking in the second half, as Jordan Cornelison and Amber Haynes drilled back to back treys to tie the score at 35-35 at the 6:34 mark of the third quarter. But Jessica Shepard refused to let Rector pull away, scoring all of BIC's twelve third quarter points to give the Lady Mustangs a 46-44 edge heading into the final quarter.

Rector grabbed their first lead of the game on a Hannah Parsley bucket with 7:43 left, but a pair of free throws by Sammi Fowler put BIC up by two moments later. Parsley answered with a pair of free throws of her own to tie the score at 50-50, but another Fowler free throw gave BIC the lead for good with 6:03 left in the game.

With Rector's student section rocking in the end zone under the BIC goal, the Lady Mustangs sank 9-12 free throws down the stretch, putting the Lady Mustangs into the championship game.

Shepard poured in a game high 36 points while Fowler pumped in 21 more to lead BIC. Kasey Garrett scored eight points, Ashley Tate connected for two, while Lauryn Smith and Chelsie Nix added one point apiece.

Rector was led by Parsley, who banged home 25 points, while Amber Haynes connected for 17 more.

BIC punched their ticket to the state tournament on Thursday with a 61-46 win over Tuckerman.

BIC led 16-7 after the first quarter and upped their margin to 29-21 at the half. Tuckerman fought back in the third quarter behind the strong inside play of Lauren Dolezal to trim BIC's lead to 45-39 entering the final quarter. The Lady Mustangs sank 13-15 free throws in the fourth quarter to pull away for the win.

Jessica Shepard and Sammi Fowler shared scoring honors with 19 points apiece for the Lady Mustangs. Ashley Tate scored nine points while Kasey Garrett and Lauryn Smith added seven points each. BIC was red hot from the foul line, hitting 20-25 attempts, and finished with three treys.

Dolezal led Tuckerman with 17 points. The Lady Bulldogs went to the line just seven times, connecting on three, and finished with five treys.

BIC will enter state tournament play as a number one seed and will face Hazen at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Danville.

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