Town Crier Sports Staff
Buffalo Island Central thought if they held down high scoring forward Hannah Parsley they would have a good chance of winning Saturday night's 2A-3 District Tournament Championship game at the Monette Athletic Complex. Rector's Parsley had scored a combined 69 points in the Cougar's first two tournament victories over Earle and Bay. The Lady Mustangs did their part, holding Parsley to just six fourth quarter points, but couldn't stop the rest of the Lady Cougars as Rector won their 21st straight game with a 56-43 victory over BIC to claim the title for the second straight year.
"We have a lot more weapons that just one player," said Rector Coach Matt Rabjohn. "We won a couple of games this year when we didn't have Hannah in the lineup, so it doesn't surprise me that we were able to win tonight even though Hannah only scored six points. Hannah is the type of player that doesn't care how many she scores as long as the team wins. Amber Haynes and Hillary Calhoun played outstanding tonight, as did the rest of our kids. You want to beat the best and to do it on their home court makes it that much sweeter. We have been looking forward to this all week. We have won 21 straight games and are playing excellent basketball right now. We just want to carry it over into next week's regional tournament. I am very happy and proud of our girls."
"I think maybe we just wanted the game too much," said BIC Coach Stan Fowler. "Jessica really played well tonight. She had 29 points and did all she could do. Sammi (Fowler) had the worst game of her career. She has never scored just two points before. We had too many silly turnovers. We missed 12 shots in the second half in the paint and missed four point blank shots with no one guarding us. When you do that you are not going to win. Our defense did a great job of stopping Parsley, but the other Rector players had very good games. It just didn't come together for us."
The two teams were tied three times during the contest, but the Lady Mustangs could never gain the lead. Rector closed the first quarter up 17-13 and built their lead to 31-24 by halftime.
Five foot eight inch junior Hillary Calhoun kept the Lady Cougars on top throughout the second quarter and finished with 11 first half points on her way to a team high 20 points on the evening.
Rector built an eight point lead, 35-27, at the 5:47 mark of the third period, but BIC held the Lady Cougars scoreless the rest of the period and battled back to tie the score at 35-35 entering the final frame. Shepard's five foot runner with 2:05 left in the period knotted the game, but neither team could score the rest of the quarter.
Calhoun began the fourth quarter with an inside bucket, but after a Lady Mustang miss, Shepard picked Haynes' pocket and drove the length of the court to tie the game 37-37 at the 5:42 mark. Calhoun answered with two straight inside buckets, giving Rector a 41-37 edge, and the Lady Cougars stretched their lead to 10 by connecting on six straight free throws to take a 47-37 lead at the1:43 mark. Rector put the game away, hitting nine free throws over the final 1:30 to claim the championship, advancing to the regional tournament as the number one seed from the 2A-3 conference.
BIC will enter the tournament as the number two seed and will take on Cedar Ridge Thursday afternoon at 4:00.
Calhoun snared 10 rebounds to go along with her team high 20 points, recording a double-double. Haynes and Allison Smart scored 11 and 10 points respectively for Rector. The Lady Cougars finished 19-27 from the foul line and connected on five treys. Rector will enter the regional tournament with a 29-5 record.
BIC (27-8) got 29 points from Shepard. Chelsie Nix scored five, Lauryn Smith netted three while Fowler, Jordan Miller and Haley Smith finished with two points apiece. BIC was 11-17 from the foul line and made two treys on the night.
Jessica Shepard was honored as the league's Most Valuable Player for the fourth consecutive season. She was joined on the All-Conference team by Sammi Fowler and Lauryn Smith.