EPC claims Conference title with 70-58 win over BIC
Buffalo Island Central and East Poinsett County went into Thursday night's 2A-3 battle at the Mustang Athletic Complex with the conference championship on the line, but when the dust had settled it was the Warriors who took home the crown, beating the host Mustangs 70-58 behind a balanced scoring attack and a tenacious defense.
BIC got off to a good start, executing their game plan to perfection. The Mustangs wanted to take an early lead and somehow force EPC star Ky Madden into foul trouble. BIC jumped to a 16-8 lead after sophomore Kam Ashabranner came away with a steal and drove the length of the floor for a lay-up. Meanwhile, Madden was saddled with two early fouls, forcing EPC Coach Josh Hill to put his Division 1 prospect on the bench.
But Madden's teammates more than took up the slack, closing the first half with a 17-4 run to take a 25-20 lead into the dressing room.
"We did the things we wanted to do early," said BIC Coach Dion Hargrove. "We focused our attention on Madden, who is a great player, forcing him to the bench with foul trouble. But we came out in the second quarter and couldn't get anything going offensively. We are young and I think our inexperience showed up in this big game. We didn't handle the pressure very well and couldn't get in a rhythm offensively. We actually felt lucky to only be down five the way we played in the second quarter. We came out in the third quarter and EPC got up on us in double figures and we never could recover. We had a tough game with Turrell that we won on Tuesday night and I think we came out a little flat tonight. It's tough to come out and play back to back games against great teams with such a young team. But I am real proud of the way our kids have competed and overcome adversity. We are looking forward to next week's district tournament. Hopefully we can make it to Regionals and see where we go to from there."
EPC extended their lead in the third period to double digits on a three point play by Byron Ford, who led all scorers with 22 points. Ford's three point play gave the Warriors a 39-26 lead with 5:04 left in the quarter, and the Mustangs never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Freshman A.J. Turner, just up from the junior Warrior team, poured in 17 points. Madden finished with 16 points despite foul trouble while Darius Barnes scored12. Bucky Chamberlin added three points. The Mustangs tried to get back into the game by fouling, but EPC drained 25-31 free throws to salt the game away.
Brandon Atkeison led BIC with 15 points while Ashabranner and freshman Dillon Hargrove added nine points apiece. Heath Hawkins scored eight while Brent Ray came off the bench to add eight points. Ben Cole pitched in seven while Blake Wheeler contributed two points.
BIC began the week with a 53-47 victory over Turrell. Dillon Hargrove paced the Mustangs with 19 points while Blake Wheeler and Kam Ashabranner added 14 and 10 points repectively. Brandon Atkeison scored five, Heath Hawkins tallied three while Ben Cole pitched in two points. The Mustangs drilled 21-34 free throws and made two three pointers.
BIC led 13-8 after one quarter, 22-19 at the half and 33-30 after three periods of play.
In junior high action, BIC lost to Turrell 46-40 before dropping a heartbreaking 44-43 decision at the hands of EPC.
BIC led 43-42 over the junior Warriors in the closing seconds, but EPC's Dray Young came away with a steal and drove for the game winning lay-up to pull out the victory. Young and Martin Powell led the Warriors with 10 points apiece. Chaivey Freeman scored nine, Wendell Pritchett tallied eight while Brady Jones added seven points.
Daniel Davis led three BIC players in double figures with 13 points. James Tate scored 11 and Mark Stone netted 10. Wes Colbert and Blake Carr added five and four points respectively.
In BIC's loss to Turrell, Daniel Davis led the way with 13 points while James Tate scored nine. Mark Stone tallied seven, Josh McCormick netted six, Wes Colbert scored three and Blake Carr chipped in two points.
Deandre Price and Warren Boyd led Turrell with 16 points apiece.