Town Crier Sports Staff
Riverside knocked off Buffalo Island Central in last year's 2A-3 District Tournament, ending the Lady Mustang's hopes of the tournament title. BIC returned the favor Thursday night with a hard fought 44-35 victory over arch-rival Riverside in this year's semi-finals.
BIC opened up in a zone defense and the Lady Rebels decided to hold the ball in hopes of forcing the Mustangs to play man to man. The strategy resulted in a low scoring first period, with the two teams battling to a 4-4 draw entering the second quarter.
The Lady Rebels drew first blood in the second stanza when junior Morgan Emery hit a 10-footer to put Riverside up 6-4. Brianna Driver followed with a pair of free throws before BIC's Sammi Fowler scored from the inside to cut the Lady Rebel lead to 8-6 at the 6:41 mark.
Riverside outscored BIC 11-6 over the next 4:30 to take a 19-12 lead with 2:01 remaining before halftime. The run was capped off when Holly Dudley nailed a three pointer to push the Rebel advantage to seven.
BIC answered by scoring the game's final five points of the half as Jessica Shepard hit two free throws with three seconds left before intermission to shave the Lady Rebel lead to 19-17 at the break.
Riverside clung to a 24-20 lead midway through the third quarter after Emery scored on an offensive stick-back, but the Lady Mustangs charged back as Lauryn Smith and Shepard nailed back to back three pointers to give BIC a 26-24 lead. Katey Campbell's short jumper at the 4:14 mark tied the score, but Shepard went to the free throw line with 3:27 left in the period and sank both attempts to give BIC the lead for good, 28-26. The BIC lead swelled to 32-26 as the third quarter ended when Chelsie Nix connected on a pair of free throws and Fowler scored from the paint.
Fowler's offensive stick-back with 6:00 to go in the game pushed the Lady Mustang lead to 34-26, but Riverside rallied to cut the lead to two when Campbell connected from 15-feet out to pull the Lady Rebels to within 34-32 with 3:50 left in the game.
Shepard iced the game for the Lady Mustangs in the final minute, connecting on all six of her free throw attempts, as BIC advanced to the championship game against Rector.
Shepard finished the night with a game high 18 points, including an 11-11 performance from the free throw line. Smith scored 11 while Fowler also hit double digits with 10 points. Nix netted five points. BIC connected on 18-25 free throws and made two treys.
Senior Kelsey Turner led Riverside with 12 points, all from beyond the three point arc. Emery scored nine, Campbell netted five, Driver tallied four, Dudley scored three while Kassie Douglas chipped in two. The Lady Rebels shot only six free throws, connecting on five. Riverside drilled six treys on the night.
The Lady Rebels advanced to the semifinals with a 61-15 win over Cross County on Monday night before rolling over Crowley's Ridge Academy 61-39 Wednesday night.
Brianna Driver scored a game high 19 points while Katey Campbell added 14 more in Riverside's win over CRA. Kelsey Turner drilled three treys to finish with nine points while Kassie Douglas scored seven and Morgan Emery netted five. Holly Dudley contributed three while Kailey Holt and Ashley Calvert tallied two points apiece. Riverside hit 10-14 from the foul line and made five three pointers. The Lady Rebels led 16-9 after the first period, 38-18 at the half and 57-26 after three quarters.
Brianna Driver, Morgan Emery and Katey Campbell were all named to the 2A-3 All-Conference team.