Cougars Wrap Up 2A-3 Schedule
The Rector Cougars got off to a great start in their final conference game of the season, and were poised to pull off a big upset, but the tables turned in the second half as the Buffalo Island Central Mustangs rolled to a 60-39 victory Friday night on Senior Night in the local gymnasium.
The Cougars were strong at the start, leading 10-5 after one period and 17-7 midway through the second. Nick Hardin, Chase Jackson and Lawson Ford each hit a three-pointer for the Cougars in the early going.
The Mustangs cut it to 19-16 before Ford nailed another trey and Chito Martinez had a basket to put the home team up 24-16 late in the second.
Unfortunately for the Cougars, the visitors hit a hot streak over the final minute of play in the first half, running off six straight points to close the gap to 24-22 heading into intermission.
"We had a chance to pin them against the wall and we didn't do it," coach Matt Mills said of allowing the crucial second period run.
BIC continued the streak into the second half as the Mustangs scored the first six points of the third frame and went on to a 41-30 advantage going into the final period.
Seth Eatman did most of the damage for the visitors in the third period, scoring 11 points, including three treys.
BIC went on a 12-4 run to start the fourth period, moving ahead 53-34, to put the game away.
"I thought the big key to the game is we just didn't shoot it well in the second half," coach Mills said. "We did an excellent job of running our offense, and got a lot of open shots, we just couldn't get them to go down...on the other hand, BIC shot very well.
"If ours go in like theirs go in, it's a different ball game."
Another big key to the game came at the free throw line. Rector went 1-6 at the charity stripe, while the Mustangs were 22-30.
Austin Pike had his usual strong game for the Mustangs, scoring 18 points, setting up the offense and dominating the defensive board. Eatman finished with 17 points and Alan Carmichael had 15.
In double figures for Rector were Ford and Danny Hager with 11 each. Hardin finished with 8, Jackson 5 and Garrett Buck 2.
It was the final home game for seniors Hardin, Landen Crancer Mason McCluskey and Skyler Shockley.
"I am extremely proud of my seniors," Mills said. "They are the most loyal group I've ever had. They've never done anything that I've been disappointed in. They are really good kids.
"They also are the group that has improved the most from the seventh grade to the 12th grade," the coach added.
Rector finished the league campaign with a 6-10 conference mark -- they stand 12-14 overall heading into the final regular-season game Thursday night at Piggott.
The Cougars will participate next week in the district tournament at East Poinsett County, seeking to win two games to advance to the regional tournament.
The Junior Cougars fell 44-8 to a powerful BIC junior team, which has lost only two games this season.
Quarter leads for the winners were 12-0, 30-6 and 39-6.
Scoring for Rector were Kirk Beshears 4, Hunter McNeely 2, Max Ford 1 and Shannon Patterson 1.
Chayse Carmichael paced BIC with 11 points.