Pike and McFarlin rally Mustangs past EPC in district tournament semifinal thriller

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
BIC's Austin Pike throws up an off-balanced one hander during the Mustang's 72-71 semifinal win over East Poinsett County Saturday night in the 2A-3 District Tournament in Lepanto. (Town Crier photos/Trent Fletcher)

Senior Austin Pike produced yet another monster night, while freshman Andrew McFarlin gave Buffalo Island Central a double-double off the bench, helping the Mustangs overcome an eight point fourth quarter deficit, as Buffalo Island Central charged back for a heart stopping 72-71 victory over East Poinsett County Saturday night in the semifinals of the 2A-3 District Tournament at Lepanto.

The victory propelled BIC into Monday night's finals against regular season champion Earle, who defeated Marked Tree 77-72 in the other semifinal matchup.

BIC trailed 58-50 with 4:40 left in the game before the Mustangs put together their winning rally. Four consecutive free throws, two each by Pike and McFarlin, sliced the EPC lead to 58-54 at the 4:04 mark. A pair of Xzavier Reed free throws pushed EPC's advantage to six, but the Mustangs answered when Trey DePriest threw in a seven foot floater, before Pike blocked a Reed shot, scooped up the ball and raced coast to coast for a lay-in, trimming the Warrior lead to 60-58 with 3:03 left.

Mustang players, coaches, cheerleaders and fans celebrate BIC's come from behind win over East Poinsett County Saturday night at Lepanto.

BIC again fouled Reed, sending the sophomore to the line where the 6'0" guard drained both free throw attempts to push the Warriors ahead 62-58 with 2:52 remaining. Pike blocked another Warrior shot and was fouled. The 6'5" guard drained both charity tosses to cut EPC's lead to 62-60. Two more Reed free throws and a tip in by Pike left the Warriors clinging to a two point advantage with 1:45 showing on the clock.

The Mustangs fouled Reed one more time, and the EPC sharpshooter calmly sank two more free throws, giving the Warriors a 66-62 advantage at the 1:38 mark. McFarlin brought the Mustangs to within a single point with an offensive stick-back while being fouled. The freshman calmly sank the "and-one" whittling the Warrior lead to 66-65 with 1:17 to go.

Clay Malone answered for the Warriors with a driving, twisting lay-up, giving EPC a 68-65 lead with just over 1:00 left. Pike's five-footer in the lane pulled BIC to within one point with 40 seconds remaining. The Mustangs fouled Quinn Young on EPC's next possession, sending Young to the line to shoot the double bonus. The senior missed the first attempt before connecting on the second free throw to give the Warriors a 69-67 lead with 35 ticks left.

Pike then turned in the biggest play of the game, connecting on a short turnaround jumper while being fouled. Pike knocked down the free throw, putting BIC ahead 70-69 with 23 seconds left in the game.

Pike then responded on the defensive end, blocking yet another Warrior shot, giving the Mustangs possession. Forced to foul, EPC sent McFarlin to the line to shoot the double bonus with just nine seconds to go. McFarlin buried both free throw attempts, pushing the Mustang lead to 72-69.

The Warriors had one last chance for a game tying three to send the contest into overtime, but Pike produced his biggest block of the night, deflecting Young's shot from beyond the three point arc. Young retrieved the loose ball, but instead of looking for another three, fired in a 12-footer just before the buzzer, leaving the Warriors one point shy, 72-71, as the Mustang faithful erupted into a wild celebration.

"Austin Pike's presence inside sometimes separates us from a lot of teams," said Mustang Coach Bill Taylor. "He had a huge block on the last three point attempt. Andrew McFarlin was a difference maker for us off the bench. He had quite a performance for a ninth grader against a very good team. We made some key shots and didn't let the game get away from us. We were able to hang in and make the plays at the end. Having Andrew at the point allowed us to get Pike on the inside and that made a big difference tonight as well."

The Mustangs opened the game, canning four consecutive three pointers to take a 12-11 lead. But the Warriors pounded the offensive boards in the early going, and held a 22-16 advantage after the first break.

EPC gained its biggest lead of the night early in the second quarter, 26-16, on a Reed lay-in. But the Mustangs clawed their way back with the help of three pointers from McFarlin and DePriest to chop the EPC lead down to 35-33 at intermission.

McFarlin's trey to begin the third period gave BIC a brief 36-35 edge, but T.J. Young answered with a triple of his own to put the Warriors back on top. Reed scored nine of EPC's final 12 points of the quarter, helping the Warriors to a 50-46 advantage heading into the final frame.

Pike finished the night with 32 points and 11 rebounds to go along with numerous blocked and altered shots. McFarlin added 16 points and 12 boards while Depriest chipped in 13. Seth Eatmon scored four, Dax Hurst tallied three while Alan Carmichael and Cory Turner pitched in two points apiece. The Mustangs finished 16-22 from the foul stripe including a 10-13 performance in the final frame. BIC nailed eight treys on the evening.

Reed topped the Warriors with 31 points. Malone scored 15 while T.J. Young added 13 more. EPC made 16-25 foul shots but missed three of their last four attempts down the stretch. The Warriors hit five triples on the night.

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