Lady Mustangs named 2A North Region champs
The Buffalo Island Central Lady Mustangs claimed the 2A North Region championship Saturday night in Marmaduke, holding off the hosting Lady Greyhounds, 40-39, in a physical, hard-fought confrontation.
Junior Hayley Parker had two huge defensive plays in the final seconds of the game, holding off Marmaduke's last-ditch effort. With BIC leading 40-39, the 6'1" Parker rejected the go-ahead attempt in the lane by the Lady 'Hounds' Jessica Boggs with fewer than 30 seconds to play. Parker also came up with a critical steal in the final seconds, returning the ball to the Lady Mustangs as time expired.
BIC trailed 39-38 with just over a minute remaining. As the Lady Mustang offense searched for an opening in the Marmaduke defense, the ball swung around to sophomore Katelyn Sparkman. Sparkman fired up a jumper from the baseline which fell short, but followed her shot, securing the offensive rebound. Sparkman was fouled on her putback attempt, heading to the free throw line with 33 seconds on the clock. She calmly sank both attempts from the stripe, moving BIC ahead, 40-39.
"I'm very proud of Katelyn Sparkman and Hayley Parker," BIC coach Stan Fowler said. "They both came up with big plays in critical moments for us."
The contest was one of the best to be featured in the regional event. After leading 10-8 through the first quarter, BIC looked to have things well in hand, going into intermission with a 27-12 advantage. Yet, Marmaduke stormed back in the third, tying the game at 29-29 heading into the fourth frame.
"Marmaduke is a great team," coach Fowler said. "If they'd have beat us, it wouldn't be a surprise. These are two very evenly matched teams."
While the Lady Mustangs celebrated their thrilling win, there was an air of concern among the players, coaches and fans. Senior guard Jenna Pike suffered an apparent knee injury late in the third quarter, requiring help off the court. Pike tried to continue at the start of the fourth, but her heart was stronger than her knee, as she was again helped back to the sidelines following the first play of the frame.
Brittany Fowler led BIC with a solid effort on the night, scoring a game-high 18 points in the win. Also scoring for the Lady Mustangs were Cassidy Qualls 9, Pike 6, Parker 2, Brittany Stockton 2, Sparkman 2 and Kaylee Greathouse 1.
Whitley Boggs paced Marmaduke with 15 points in the loss.
BIC connected on 17 of 19 from the free throw line. Marmaduke made 17 of 25 at the stripe.
The Lady Mustangs will be in action at home this week, as the 2A state tournament comes to Caraway. BIC, the number one seed from the north, will face Spring Hill, the fourth seed from the south, at 4 p.m. Tuesday (today).