Town Crier Sports Staff
Buffalo Island Central's 2007 Athletic Banquet Tuesday night, May 15, at the Mustang Athletic Complex was somewhat bittersweet as awards were handed out to the top athletes of the year while Mustang fans said farewell to Athletic Director and Head Basketball Coach Bill Taylor, who will be moving on to Springdale to coach the Bulldogs in the upcoming school year.
Top athletic honors were handed out to seniors Jordan Phillips and Katie Olive, who received the Mr. And Miss Mustang awards, given annually to the student athlete who best displays not only athletic ability, but leadership, dedication and academics. To qualify, winners must participate in more than one sport.
Olive was also honored with the Richie Austin Memorial Award while Phillips garnered several other honors in both basketball and baseball.
As the evening progressed, players and coaches alike heaped praise on Taylor, who led the Mustangs to back to back state championships in basketball. Taylor also was the driving force behind the building of the MAC, one of the top athletic facilities in the state of Arkansas. Several times during the evening, voices cracked and tears flowed as the Mustang faithful said goodbye to Taylor.
In senior boys basketball, senior Garrett Qualls took home the honor of Best Offensive Player while fellow senior Nick Birdno picked up the award for Best Defensive Player. Qualls also received the award for Best Free Throw Percentage, finishing the year shooting 81.5 percent from the line. Phillips garnered the award for Best Rebounder as well as being selected to the Class AA State Tournament team. The Mustang Award was given to senior post player Lance Davis while fellow senior Terry Roach was chosen as Most Improved Player.
Freshman Cody Smith was named the junior boys basketball Most Valuable Player. Smith also received the award for Most Three Pointers Made, tallying 63. The Outstanding Offensive Player award went to freshman Matt Taylor while the Best Defensive Player award went to Heath Hawkins. Brandon Atkeison was the winner of the Outstanding Rebounder award.
Junior Jessica Shepard took home the top honor in senior girls basketball, winning the Most Valuable Player award. Shepard led the team in scoring with 768 points, shot a team leading 80 percent from the free throw line, dished out 101 assists, came up with 76 steals and made 72 three pointers on the year.
Junior Sammi Fowler picked up the award for Outstanding Offensive Player while senior Kasey Garrett won the award for Most Assists. Senior Ashley Tate garnered the Outstanding Rebounder award while junior Lauryn Smith picked up the Hustle Award. Corie Flannigan was awarded Most Improved Player while Team Player awards went to Katie Olive and Tiffany Parker.
Junior girls awards in basketball went to Shelby Qualls for Best Free Throw Percentage and Most Assists. Whitlee Roland received the honors for Offensive Player and Most Steals. The Rebound Award went to Jamie Harris while the Hustle Award went to Jenny Walker. Jenna Pike was chosen Most Improved Player while Taylor Owens received the Team Player Award.
Jordan Phillips headlined the baseball awards, highlighted by the Dusty Wood Award in memory of former Mustang player Dusty Wood. The Dusty Wood Award is the highest honor a Mustang baseball player can receive.
Phillips was also named All-State and chosen as the first All-Star Nominee in the 2A-3 Conference. Phillips was named Offensive Player of the Year and made both All-Conference and the All-County Tournament team.
Other All-Conference players include Chad Williams, Trevor Matheny, Garrett Qualls and Cody Smith. The Mustang Award went to Williams while Qualls received the Pitching Award and Matheny was chosen Defensive Player of the Year.
Karla Marroquin picked up All-State honors in softball as well as being named All-Conference. Marroquin won the award for Outstanding Offensive Player. Sammi Fowler and Lauryn Smith were also chosen All-Conference with Smith being named Outstanding Defensive Player. Tiffany Parker received the Mustang Award while Morgan Edwards was named Most Improved.
Buffalo Island Central senior high cheerleaders were also honored for their accomplishments over the year. The senior squad was the 2A State Champions and 2A State Grand Champions with the top score overall in state competition. In addition, the senior cheerleaders won first place for their regional routine and won the Academic Award in the Northeast Region with a combined 3.67 grade point average.
Ashley Johnson and Brannah Barrett received special recognition as team captains. Johnson, a six year BIC cheerleader and a six year All-American nominee, was an All-American cheerleader for two years and was on the All-Star team. Barrett, also a six year BIC cheerleader and a two time Overall Top All-American, was also an All-Star team member. Barrett has received the ACCA Team of Excellence Scholarship and will cheer for the University of Memphis in the fall. She also has been named as a National Cheerleader Association instructor.
The junior high cheerleaders won first place with their regional routine and also received the NEA Region Academic Award with a combined 3.675 grade point average. They placed third in the junior high 2A-3A state competition.
Bianca Garcia was named All-American Award winner while All-American nominees included, Mallory Crites, Madison Finch, Megan Misner, and Lindsey Pittman.
Coach Taylor concluded the awards ceremony, praising the players, fans and administration and thanking them for the support he received during his tenure at BIC. "I am really going to miss Buffalo Island Central. We have the best fans in the state. I will always be a Mustang," concluded Taylor.