(Town Crier photo/Trent Fletcher)
Buffalo Island Central outscored Walnut Ridge 20-7 in the second quarter and went on to a 47-33 victory to claim the 2A-North Region Championship Saturday night at Cross County.
Seniors Jessica Shepard and Sammi Fowler combined for 40 points to lead the Lady Mustangs to their 30th win of the season. BIC broke a 7-7 tie, outscoring the Lady Bobcats 12-2, to take a 19-9 lead with 2:49 left in the half.
BIC drilled four three pointers in the decisive period, including two each by Shepard and Fowler. Shepard nailed back to back treys to give BIC a 25-14 lead before Fowler closed the half with a driving lay-up, putting BIC up by 13 at intermission.
"The girls were really hungry for this tournament title," said BIC Coach Stan Fowler. "They played extremely hard and I am really proud of them. They have been a fun group to coach. I thought the key to the game was our defense on Rachel Looney. Chelsie Nix did an excellent job on her. Jessica Shepard came out and played the type game we needed her to play, and Sammi (Fowler) gave us some big points. Lauryn Smith scored five points, but they were big points."
The two teams played on equal terms throughout most of the second half, but the Lady Bobcats could never get closer than 10 points. Vanessa Oliver's three pointer to open the fourth quarter pulled Walnut Ridge to within 36-26, but BIC went on a 6-0 run to open up a 16 point lead, 42-26, with 4:25 to go to put the game away.
Shepard led BIC with 22 points while Fowler added 18. Smith scored five while Corie Flannigan added two. BIC was 5-8 from the charity stripe and finished with four treys, all in the second quarter.
Chelsea Treadway led Walnut Ridge with 10 points. The Lady Bobcats hit 9-12 foul shots and made two treys.
BIC will open state tournament play as the number one seed from the north. The Lady Mustangs will take on Mount Ida, the number four seed from the south, at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday night in Jessieville.