Town Crier Sports Staff
All Bill Taylor and his Buffalo Island Central Mustangs wanted was the opportunity to defend their Class AA State Championship. Seniors Garrett Qualls and Terry Roach made sure the Mustangs will get that chance by combining for 53 points in BIC's 75-61 victory over White County Wednesday afternoon in the 2A North Regional Tournament at Rector.
"All we ever wanted, all we ever talked about from the first practice, was to get back to the state tournament," said Taylor. "That's all we ever want. It's a huge relief to get back. We lost five starters from a year ago. We won 20 games and finished second in the round robin. We are in the state tournament. The players deserve all the credit for sticking in there when a lot of people doubted them. They came back from a horrible loss last Thursday to a great Crowley's Ridge Academy team and played really well tonight. Terry Roach had a great game, Garrett Qualls scored 28 points, and Lance Davis came up big off the bench."
White County, the 2A-2 District champions, put up a fight early, trailing the Mustangs just 21-20 at the first break behind the hot shooting of Kendall Chasteen. But the Mustangs hung tough with Qualls, Roach and Jordan Phillips doing most of the damage.
BIC began to pull away in the second quarter when Qualls and Roach drilled back to back treys to increase the Mustang lead to 29-23. The Bears pulled to within three when Reece Brown was fouled on a three point attempt. The senior forward made all three free throws to cut the lead to three, but that was as close as White County would get the rest of the night. Leading 29-26 at the 5:57 mark, the Mustangs went on a 10-0 run to pull ahead 39-26 with 3:10 left in the half. The two teams traded buckets the rest of the half as BIC hit the dressing room with a 45-32 lead.
Roach and Qualls started a Mustang stampede early in the third quarter, scoring BIC's first 15 points to push their lead to 60-43 with 1:52 left in the period. After a Chasteen three pointer cut the lead to 14, Qualls ended the quarter with a conventional three point play to give BIC a 65-48 advantage heading into the final frame.
The fourth quarter was just a formality as the Mustangs celebrated their third straight trip to the state tournament, giving BIC the opportunity to shoot for their third straight state title.
"We are just glad to be back," said Taylor. "When you get to the state tournament, anything can happen."
Qualls led BIC with 28 points while Roach poured in 25 more. Phillips also reached double figures with 10 points. Lance Davis scored six while Nick Birdno, Cody Smith and Trevor Matheny added two points apiece. The Mustangs hit six three pointers on the night and finished 16-27 from the foul stripe.
Chasteen led White County with 18 points while Jeremy Edwards and Reece Brown added 13 and 10 points respectively.
The Mustangs looked to avenge their district tournament loss to Crowley's Ridge Academy on Friday night, but the Falcons broke open a tight game at the half and flew away with a 72-60 victory, sending BIC to the consolation bracket.
Trailing just 28-24 at halftime, the Falcons outscored BIC 24-11 in the third stanza to pull away to a 52-35 lead heading into the final quarter. Facing a 17 point deficit heading into the fourth period, the Mustangs were forced to foul and the Falcons responded by hitting 12-18 from the line to earn a trip to the championship game.
Alan Williams pumped in a game high 22 points to pace the Falcons while Aaron Palmer scored 12. Michael Davis and Brandon Webb also hit double digits with 11 and 10 points respectively.
Garrett Qualls led the Mustangs with 20 points while Jordan Phillips added 11 more. Terry Roach and Trevor Matheny scored nine points apiece while Lance Davis netted five and Cody Smith and Shane Barnes added three points each.
The Mustangs faced Earle Saturday afternoon to determine seeding for the state tournament, and the Bulldogs came away with a hard fought 74-69 win.
The Bulldogs grabbed a 20-11 first period lead and took a 39-35 edge into the dressing room at the half. Earle stretched their margin to 59-49 after the third quarter and hit 13-18 from the foul line in the final frame to hold off the Mustangs, earning the number three seed in next week's state tournament.
Eddie Qualls scorched the nets for 29 points to lead four Bulldogs in double figures. Ronnie Davis scored 14 points, Darron Weedon tallied 11 while Corbin McKenzie netted 10 points. Earle, who had a miserable shooting night from the field against Riverside in the semi-finals, came out hot against BIC, drilling seven treys and finishing 21-29 from the charity stripe.
Jordan Phillips paced the Mustangs with 26 points while Terry Roach scored 20 and Garrett Qualls added 12 more. Cody Smith tallied four, Trevor Matheny netted three while Lance Davis and Nick Birdno scored two points apiece. BIC hit 24-31 from the free throw line and finished with three treys.
The Mustangs will open state tournament play as the number four seed from the North Region and will face Dermott Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 in Danville.