Lady Mustangs defeat conference rival Marmaduke 61-50 to claim NEA Title
Buffalo Island Central used a big second quarter to surge past Marmaduke for a 61-50 victory in the championship game of the NEA Tournament's Girls Division II bracket New Year's Eve at the Convocation Center in Jonesboro.
The two teams battled to a 10-10 tie after the opening period, and were still knotted 14-14 with 5:44 left in the half when the Lady Mustangs exploded on a 10-0 run over the next four minutes of play to take a 24-14 lead. Emily Owens and Katelyn Sparkman began the Mustang spurt with a pair of free throws apiece, followed by back to back buckets by Brittany Fowler and Sparkman. Cassidy Qualls hit a pair of charity tosses with 1:34 left in the half to put the Lady Mustangs up by 10 points.
A pair of free throws by Sidnee Bopp broke the Lady Greyhound scoring drought at the 1:28 mark, but Fowler answered with a three point bomb. Bopp came back with two more free throws to cut the BIC lead to nine, but a 10-footer by Fowler and a Qualls trey gave the Lady Mustangs a 32-18 advantage at the half and Marmaduke never recovered.
BIC built its lead to as many as 16 points in the third quarter before settling on a 42-30 lead heading into the final frame. Fowler and Hannah Poe began the fourth quarter with back to back treys to push the lead up to 16, 48-32. Marmaduke was able to cut the lead to 55-47 with 3:20 left on a three pointer by Callie Price, but BIC nailed six of eight foul shots down the stretch to claim the championship.
"I am very proud of the girls, very proud," said BIC coach Stan Fowler. "I thought our defense matched up well and we were able to limit them to one shot per possession. We shot free throws really well tonight. We have three girls that hit 70 percent or better, and we were able to come through from the line again tonight."
Fowler scored a game high 22 points to lead BIC while Sparkman also hit double digits, pitching in 13 more. Qualls netted nine, Owens tallied six, Poe contributed five, Brittany Stockton added four while Shania Junyor chipped in two. BIC hit 23-28 free throws and connected on four three pointers. The Lady Mustangs claimed the victory despite an uncharacteristic 23 turnovers.
Lee led Marmaduke with 19 points while Bopp added 13. Marmaduke had a miserable night from the field, connecting on just 18-68 field goals attempts, including an atrocious two for 32 performance from beyond the three point arc. The Lady Greyhounds did not deliver on a three pointer until the 3:20 mark of the fourth period when Price finally made Marmaduke's first trey of the game. Marmaduke finished 12-16 from the foul stripe.
BIC advanced to the semifinals with a thrilling 47-46 come from behind victory over Nettleton, thanks to Fowler's coast to coast drive for the winning bucket as time expired. The Lady Mustangs and Lady Raiders fought to a 10-10 first period tie before Nettleton rallied for a 21-19 halftime lead. Nettleton led 21-14 with 1:34 to go before intermission before Hannah Poe's 12-footer and Brittany Fowler's triple at the buzzer cut the Lady Raider lead to two at the half.
Nettleton pushed its lead to 31-25 midway through the third quarter on an Ali Tucker three pointer. Fowler brought BIC back with a bucket and a free throw before Qualls pulled the Mustangs to within 31-30 with two foul shots of her own with 1:11 left in the third period. Nettleton scored the quarter's last three points to take a 34-30 lead into the final frame.
Nettleton maintained its lead throughout most of the fourth quarter, and held a 44-40 edge with 36 seconds left after a pair of Raven McMillion free throws. BIC's Katelyn Sparkman came up big, hitting a 10-footer while being fouled at the 22 second mark. Sparkman converted the "and one" to pull the Lady Mustangs to within 44-43. Lexi Beliew pushed Nettleton back up 46-43 with 19 seconds left before Emily Owens pitched in a pair of foul shots with 10 seconds remaining to cut the Lady Raider lead to one, 46-45.
BIC fouled Tucker with eight seconds left, and the Nettleton sophomore misfired on both ends of the double bonus, giving BIC one more chance in the waning seconds. Fowler, as she has done so many times before, drove the length of the floor and threw in a running one-hander off the glass just before the buzzer sounded to send the Lady Mustangs into the semifinals.
Fowler led all scorers with 20 points, including the game winning bucket. Owens netted 10, Qualls, Stockton and Taylor McKuin scored four points apiece while Sparkman added three. Poe chipped in two points.
Tucker led the Lady Raiders with 15 points while Beliew added 10.
BIC punched its ticket to the finals with a hard fought 54-48 victory over Rivercrest. BIC led 18-12 after the first quarter before watching the Lady Colts rally for a 26-24 halftime lead. The Lady Mustangs outscored Rivercrest 17-4 in the third quarter to take a 41-30 advantage into the final frame.
Both teams struggled with turnovers, as BIC committed 26 while Rivercrest turned the ball over 20 times.
Domonique Brown led all scorers with a game high 30 points while Taylor Harris chipped in 14 more for the Lady Colts.
Owens led BIC with 14 points while Qualls added 13, including four three pointers. Fowler finished with 10 points. Sparkman scored nine, Brittany Stockton tallied four while Poe and Rachel Goldammer chipped in two points apiece.
Fowler, Qualls and Owens were all named to the NEA Tournament team.