The Buffalo Island Central girls met their number one goal in 2A-North regional basketball action last week, advancing to the state tournament this week at Carlisle.
BIC earned the state spot by making a big comeback against host Midland in quarterfinal action before falling by one point to Cotter in the semifinals and defeating East Poinsett County in the third place game.
The Lady Mustangs put together and amazing 18-0 run in the fourth quarter of the Thursday game against Midland, moving from a 42-33 deficit to a 51-42 advantage on their way to the crucial 61-50 win.
BIC went 9-11 at the free throw line during the big run as they repeatedly penetrated, drawing fouls from Midland.
The host Lady Mustangs went more than five minutes without scoring as BIC completely turned the game around and earned the state tournament spot.
Midland finally broke the ice with a basket by Farrah Turner with 2:04 left in the game, but the damage had been done by the aggressive BIC team.
BIC made eight more free throws down the stretch to seal the win and advance to the semifinal game against Cotter, which upset Marmaduke the night before.
Midland got off to a great start in the game, rolling to a 10-2 lead on a three-poiner by Kayla Fortston.
But BIC fought back, tying the score at 11 on a pair of free throws by Jenna Pike with two seconds left in the first quarter.
The two teams battled on fairly even terms throughout the second quarter, with Midland easing ahead 23-18 on a late basket by playmaking guard Turner.
The host Lady Mustangs stretched the lead out to seven in the third quarter. BIC kept it close with some remarkable perimeter shooting, including two treys by Pike, another by Brittany Fowler and a fourth by Holly Dempsey. A late basket by Fowler closed the gap to 37-33 heading into the final frame.
Midland appeared to take control of the game early in the fourth quarter, with Kerstie Bumpous nailing a three-pointer and Turner hitting a pair of free throws at the 7:13 mark to make it 42-33.
But then began the remarkable BIC run that turned the game completely around.
The winning Lady Mustangs were tremendous from the free throw line, hitting 25 of 32.
Fowler led the way in the scoring department with 24. She was joined in double figures by Pike at 13. Also scoring were Dempsey 9, Cassidy Qualls 6, Hayley Parker 4, Ashley Jines 2 and Taylor Owens 2.
Turner had 24 for Midland. The hosts went 11-15 from the charity stripe. Each team hit four three-pointers in the game.
Setback To Cotter
In one of the most hotly-contested games of the tournament, the Lady Mustangs fell 54-53 to Cotter in Friday's semifinals.
Despite standout guard Fowler fouling out of the game, the Lady Mustangs battled to the end and had a chance to win before a late shot fell short.
Pike's three-pointer in the first quarter gave her team a 10-5 lead, but the Lady Warriors fought back to close the gap to 15-13 at the end of the quarter on a trey by Shawna Chevalier.
The second quarter was a game of surges as the Lady Mustangs first took control, only to see Cotter battle back with a run of their own.
The Lady Mustangs scored the first 11 points of the period to move comfortably ahead, 26-13. A three-pointer by Pike and two baskets each by Fowler and Dempsey gave BIC the 13-point edge.
But Cotter proved to be a scrappy team throughout the tournament and the Lady Warriors cut the gap to 33-27 at the halftime break. Another three-pointer by Chevalier and seven free throws by the Lady Warriors were keys to the comeback.
The third period belonged to the Lady Warriors as they outscored BIC 17-8 to take a 44-41 advantage heading into the final frame. Free throws were again the key to the scoring for Cotter, as the team went 9-11 at the line in the period.
Fowler had a three-point play at the 6:11 mark of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 46, but the freshman guard fouled out shortly thereafter and Cotter eased ahead 50-46.
It was close the rest of the way. A basket by Qualls and a free throw by Owens brought the score to 50-49 with 3:04 showing. Chevalier put her team up 52-49, but Dempsey hit two crucial baskets down the stretch to give BIC a 53-52 lead.
Cotter scored the final points of the game on an inside basket by Caitlin Dewey and BIC couldn't answer at the other end on their final possession.
"We struggled some at the beginning of the third period," BIC coach Stan Fowler said after the game, "and we missed a lot of outside shots."
Fowler said his team's press was very effective in the first half, but Cotter made some good adjustments at halftime. The Lady Warriors had 11 turnovers in the first half, but only six after intermission.
The BIC coach said Cotter's size inside proved to be a problem at times for his young team. Looking ahead to the state tournament, the coach said his team needs to get more consistent results with its press and has to rebound better.
Fowler led the Lady Mustangs in scoring with 20 points and Dempsey was right behind with 15. Also scoring were Pike 7, Qualls 6, Parker 2, Jines 2 and Owens 1. Haley Stinnett had 16 and Chevalier 10 for Cotter.
BIC went 14-20 at the line, while the Lady Warriors were 19-26. Each team netted three treys.
Win Over EPC
BIC moved to 24-10 on the season with an 80-65 victory over EPC in Saturday afternoon's third place game.
Quarter leads for the winners were 21-13, 37-30 and 60-49.
Fowler poured in 33 points for the Lady Mustangs and Dempsey and Pike joined her in double figures with 16 and 11 respectively.
Top scorers for EPC were Terrika Madden 22, Brittany Ball 18 and Keyerah Young 10.