Mustangs fight off Rebels, earn regional tournament berth
Buffalo Island Central staved off a furious fourth quarter rally by Riverside and escaped with a 60-52 victory over their old nemesis Friday night in the quarterfinals of the 2A-3 District Tournament at Lepanto.
The win advances the Mustangs into this week's 2A Regionals to be held at the MAC in Monette beginning Wednesday night.
BIC got off to a fast start, bolting to a 19-7 lead after the opening period, thanks to an 8-10 performance from the foul line, while the Rebels failed to attempt a free throw in the first stanza.
The Mustangs continued to build on their lead in the second quarter behind the scoring of Seth Eatmon, who poured in 10 points, including a pair of three pointers. Eatmon's second trey of the quarter gave BIC a 34-14 lead, and it appeared the Mustangs would run away with the game. But the Rebels got a three point play from Braden Overman and a 17-foot jumper by Gavin Stone to trim the BIC lead to 37-21 at the half.
Riverside continued to chop away at the lead early in the third quarter, getting a three point play from Kollin Stone, followed by a Gavin Stone triple, slicing the BIC advantage to 37-27 at the 6:41 mark. The Mustangs regained momentum, outscoring the Rebels 10-5 over the next three minutes to increase their lead to 47-32. The two rivals battled on even terms the remainder of the period, with BIC holding a 49-34 lead heading into the final frame.
Things began to tighten up midway through the fourth quarter, with Riverside going on a 12-2 run to pull within three points, 53-50, with 1:39 left in the game. A three pointer by Bret Snyder, along with a pair of Gavin Stone buckets, highlighted the Rebel comeback.
Trailing by only three, Riverside forced a BIC turnover and had a chance to even the game, but Snyder's game tying attempt from beyond the three point line missed its mark, as Pike grabbed the rebound.
The Mustangs closed the game out, sinking 7-8 foul shots in the final 1:25 of the contest to secure a spot in the regional tournament while ending Riverside's season.
"We had an opportunity at a game tying shot, which is saying something as much as BIC had us down in the first half," said Rebel Coach Buster Campbell. "Our kids played their butts off. There is not an ounce of quit in them and I am proud of them."
"I knew no matter how the game was going early things would get interesting at the end," said Mustang Coach Bill Taylor. "It got down to three and they had the ball. I thought we were too careless with the ball in our delay game. We had some unforced turnovers and they started making some shots. They didn't quit and we knew they wouldn't. It feels great to win and to know we have a chance to play in our gym for the regionals."
Eatmon led the Mustangs with 24 points while Pike followed closely behind with 23 more. Dax Hurst and Andrew McFarlin scored four points apiece. Cory Turner tallied three while Alan Carmichael chipped in two points. BIC finished 26-31 from the free throw stripe and drilled six three pointers on the night.
Riverside placed four players in double figures, led by Luke Baker's 13 points. Gavin Stone scored 11 while Kollin Stone and Snyder chipped in 10 points apiece. Overman tallied six while Brandon Sain added two points. The Rebels sank 13-22 free throws and drilled four three pointers.
Riverside began the tournament with a 47-44 victory over Rector on Thursday night. Sain led the Rebels with 16 points while Baker added 11. Snyder scored eight, Gavin Stone tallied seven while Cody Winstead pitched in five.