State champion Timberwolves rally past Mustangs in Regional finals

Tuesday, March 4, 2014
BIC's Nick Bollinger scores two of his 14 points as a trio of Timberwolves defend. (Town Crier photos/Trent Fletcher)

Defending Class 2A State Champion Cedar Ridge rallied from six down in the final three minutes to pull out a thrilling 67-64 victory over Buffalo Island Central in the finals of the 2A North Regional Saturday night at Pangburn.

The Mustangs, who led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, held a 60-54 lead with 3:14 left after Seth Eatmon dropped in a 10-foot runner. The Timberwolves answered with back to back buckets by All-State forward Spencer Reaves, slicing the BIC lead to 60-58 at the 2:08 mark. Cade Crabtree sank one of two foul shots to pull the T-Wolves to within one with 1:44 left before Spencer Reaves put Cedar Ridge on top for good, 61-60, with 1:12 left in the game.

BIC turned the ball over on its next possession, and was forced to foul, sending Nate Easley to the line. The 5'9" junior rattled home both attempts to push the Cedar Ridge advantage to three with 58 seconds remaining.

BIC's Seth Eatmon launches a three pointer in the Mustang's regional final contest against Cedar Ridge.

Austin Pike followed his own miss with an offensive stick-back to cut the deficit to 63-62 with 44 ticks left on the clock, but Spencer Reaves answered once more, hitting both ends of the double bonus for a 65-62 lead with 30 seconds to go. Nick Bollinger scored for the Mustangs on an inside move with 10 seconds left to slice the margin to 65-64, and BIC immediately called timeout.

The Timberwolves inbounded the ball to Spencer Reaves who was fouled with eight seconds left. Reaves calmly pitched in both foul shots for a three point lead. Pike's desperation three missed its target at the buzzer, allowing Cedar Ridge to escape with the regional title safely in their grasp.

The Timberwolves threatened to run away early on, jumping to a 7-0 lead before the Mustangs fought back to pull to within 10-9 on an inside bucket by Bollinger midway through the first quarter. Two straight Spencer Reaves buckets helped Cedar Ridge take a five point lead before Pike's three point play chopped the Timberwolves advantage to 16-14. Austin Reaves' 10-footer gave Cedar Ridge an 18-14 lead after the first period.

Mustang Austin Pike glides for two of his team high 17 points in Saturday night's regional finals against Cedar Ridge.

With Spencer Reaves sitting on the bench with three fouls beginning the second quarter, the Mustangs took advantage. Eatmon banged home a pair of three pointers while Pike pitched in three buckets, giving BIC a 30-28 edge with 1:48 left in the half. Trey DePriest's five-foot runner five seconds before intermission gave BIC a 32-28 halftime advantage.

The Mustangs built their lead to 40-30 early in the third period, thanks to consecutive triples by Alex Ballin and Jacob Sanders. But the Timberwolves would go on a 14-4 run behind the strong play of Cole Crabtree to tie the game 44-44 with 4:05 left in the quarter. The two teams entered the final frame knotted at 46-all.

Cole Crabtree gave the Timberwolves a brief two point lead to begin the fourth period before Pike's conventional three point play and a Eatmon trey pushed BIC's lead to four. Eatmon's 10-foot runner and a pair of Bollinger baskets put the Mustangs up 58-52 with 4:00 left before Cedar Ridge rallied down the stretch to complete their come from behind victory.

"We won the game everywhere but at the free throw line," said Mustang Coach Bill Taylor. "It was a good game and we had our chances, but we just fell a little short. I thought the kids battled hard and played really well. I was very proud of them. You have to give Cedar Ridge credit. They made the plays they had to in the last two minutes of the game. We get to begin a new season now in the state tournament and we are looking forward to that."

"We were able to rely on our experience to help us through the fourth quarter," said Cedar Ridge Coach Isaac Middlebrooks. "I thought Cole did an outstanding job for us when Spencer had to sit the second quarter with foul trouble. Our kids refused to quit. We are very happy to pick up this win against a very good BIC team."

Pike led the Mustangs with 17 points while Bollinger and Eatmon finished with 14 and 13 respectively. Sanders scored eight, Ballin and DePriest chipped in five points apiece while Alan Carmichael added two. BIC connected on 8-15 free throws and nailed six treys.

Cole Crabtree led Cedar Ridge with 25 points while Spencer Reaves added 24 more. The Timberwolves made 19-27 foul shots, including 15-16 in the second half.

BIC will begin state tournament play as a number two seed and will take on third seeded Bearden out of the South Region Thursday afternoon at 2:30 in Hampton.

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