The Lady Eagles, one of the state's top-ranked teams, held the upper hand throughout most of the game, but the Lady Mustangs cut the margin to nine and had possession of the ball early in the fourth quarter. Jenna Pike had just hit a trey for BIC to cut the margin to 55-46 and Conway Christian fouled on the play while fighting through a pick. Some observers thought the foul should have been flagrant, but instead the Lady Mustangs took the ball out of bounds.
BIC couldn't score at that point and CC's Kelly Hays nailed two straight three-pointers to give her team some breathing room down the stretch.
(Town Crier photos/Ron Kemp)
The Lady Eagles won that game handily and then blew out Wickes in the semifinal game to advance to 27-5 for the season.
It will be an all-Conway championship game at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Summit Arena in Hot Springs as Conway Christian meets St. Joseph. The teams have split four previous meetings this season.
"We knew coming into the game that Conway Christian was much bigger and stronger," BIC coach Stan Fowler said. "But we played well and we played with a lot of heart."
Fowler said the Lady Eagles were able to score effectively inside in the first half, with post player Bre' Anna Hobbs scoring 17 of her 23 points before intermission. BIC packed it in some in the second half, but the Lady Eagles then caught fire from the perimeter. with Hays hitting three crucial treys.
"You have to pick your poison," Fowler said, either trying to slow down the inside game or pressuring the perimeter.
Conway Christian got off to a 19-12 lead after one quarter behind the strong play of Hobbs. The Lady Eagles expanded the margin to 43-30 at intermission as Christina DenHartog hit two three-pointers and two regular field goals.
BIC freshman guard Brittany Fowler kept the Lady Mustangs in the game, scoring 16 points in the first half, including 8-10 at the free throw line.
The Lady Mustangs were able to slow down the Lady Eagles in the third frame, holding them to 11 points -- but the missed shots prevented BIC from getting even closer.
Fowler led all scorers with 29 points. Pike joined her in double figures with 12 points. Also scoring for BIC were Cassidy Qualls 8,
Holly Dempsey 3, Taylor Owens 2 and Haley Parker 2.
In addition to Hobbs' 23, all the Lady Eagles starters were in double figures -- DenHartzog 15, Hays 11, Cheyenne Wood 11 and Mallory Clutts 10, BIC went 16-22 at the free throw line, while Conway Christian was 13-19. BIC had four three-pointers while CC nailed seven.
BIC has a young team and a lot to look forward to for next year. As an example, underclassmen scored all but two of BIC's 56 points in the state tournament game.
"This was a great experience for our team," Fowler said, "and will really help our younger players down the line...we played with a lot of heart in this game and that's all you can ask of your team."