Mustangs advance in NEA at Riverside's expense

Friday, January 2, 2009

After dropping a heartbreaker on a last second shot earlier in the season at Caraway, Buffalo Island Central got revenge over arch rival Riverside with a convincing 50-34 victory in the quarterfinals of the 62nd Northeast Arkansas Invitational Tournament Friday night at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

BIC center Brandon Atkeison (22) shoots over Riverside's Blake Hogan (50) during NEA Tournament action Friday night at ASU.

The Mustangs used a 17-4 second quarter to break open a close game, capped off by Kam Ashabranner's 30-footer as the first half buzzer sounded, sending BIC into the dressing room with a 26-12 halftime lead.

Riverside scored the game's first five points but watched BIC rally to take a 7-5 edge on Blake Wheeler's three pointer at the 3:41 mark. The Rebels retaliated with a three point bomb from Dewayne Schrader for its last lead of the game before BIC's Brandon Atkeison gave the Mustangs a 9-8 advantage heading into the decisive second quarter.

BIC's smothering defense forced eight Rebel turnovers in the second period alone while Riverside struggled offensively from both the field and the free throw line. Ashbranner and Atkeison provided the Mustang's offensive outburst during the quarter while the Rebels shot poorly from the field and hit just 2-8 free throws.

Mustang Heath Hawkins (24) lays the ball in while Riverside's Cam Casey (23) defends.

Riverside used a 7-0 run capped off by Cameron Casey's two free throws at the1:29 mark of the third quarter to pull within 35-24 after BIC had taken an 18 point lead midway through the period, but the Rebels would get no closer the rest of the way. The Mustangs maintained their double digit lead heading into the final frame and never let the Rebels get within single digits, leading by as many as 20 points with 2:39 to go in the game.

"After Riverside scored the first five points of the game, we held them to seven the rest of the half, and I thought that was the turning point," said Mustang Coach Dion Hargrove. "We really played well defensively tonight. We extended the floor and put pressure on them, giving them some problems. We did a real good job of holding Hogan (Blake) down. He really hurt us earlier this year when he scored 15 points on us in the first quarter. We were able to get some mismatches in the second half and we made our shots. It was a good win for us."

BIC's full court press gave the Rebels problems all night, forcing 25 turnovers, while the Mustang's half-court defense shut down Riverside's inside game.

"We didn't take care of the ball and we shot more three point shots than we did two's," said Riverside Coach Buster Campbell. "I am very disappointed. The game plan was a total waste. They didn't need a coach. They didn't do anything we asked them to do. There was not much effort. We didn't play very smart. We didn't do a good job guarding them and we had far too many turnovers. I can't think of anything good to say about our performance tonight. I'm not taking anything away from BIC, they played well. I thought we were tougher than what we played. There is no excuse for playing the way we did."

BIC placed three players in double figures, led by Atkeison who scored 16 points. Sophomore Kam Ashabranner pumped in 15 points while junior Blake Wheeler added 11 more. Ben Cole rounded out the Mustang scoring with eight points. The Mustangs connected on 46 percent of their field goal attempts and hit three treys on the night.

Cody O'Guinn led Riverside with 13 points while Tyler Warhurst scored eight. Schrader scored six points while Casey, Blake Hogan, and Sam Elam netted two points apiece. Josh Anderson chipped in one point. The Rebels shot a dismal 9-31 from the floor, including just 5-18 from three point range.

In first round action, BIC defeated Tuckerman 68-52 behind a combined 48 point performance by Kam Ashabranner and Blake Wheeler. Ashabranner finished with 27 points while Wheeler pumped in 21 more. Ben Cole scored eight, Brandon Atkeison added seven while Heath Hawkins contributed two points.

Orie Allen and Justin Watkins led Tuckerman with 12 points a piece. The Mustangs led 14-5 after the opening period, 32-22 at the half and 48-35 after three quarters.

Riverside posted a 71-41 first round win over Salem as 11 players hit the scoring column, led by senior Cody O'Guinn who scored 18 points. Blake Hogan and Dewayne Schrader also netted double digits with 11 and 10 points respectively. Josh Anderson scored nine, Tyler Warhurst contributed seven, Sam Elam put in five, Bryan Poe tallied three while Cam Casey, M.J. Brewer, Tyler Rolland, and Luke Moyer all added two points apiece. The Rebels connected on 11-17 free throws and drilled eight treys.

Riverside took a 27-14 lead after the first period and led 47-20 at the half. The Rebels led 64-28 heading into the final quarter.

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