EPC takes advantage of Pike's absence, take 80-70 win
East Poinsett County took advantage of Buffalo Island Central star Austin Pike's second half absence to pull away for an 80-70 victory over the Mustangs in Friday night semifinal action of the 2A North Regional Tournament held at the MAC in Monette.
Pike, who took a nasty spill late in the second quarter after throwing down a two-handed slam, had to leave the game when he injured his right wrist on a collision near the EPC basket just before halftime. BIC's leading scorer and rebounder attempted to return in the second half, but it was obvious during warm-ups the senior was in too much pain to continue playing.
The Mustangs got off to a strong start in the opening quarter, taking a 14-4 lead with the help of back to back three pointers from sophomore Trey DePriest. The Warriors were able to close the gap to 16-10 on a 12-foot jumper by Quinn Young, but BIC answered with a three pointer from Andrew McFarlin and took a 21-13 lead after the first break.
EPC fought back in the second period behind the scoring of Xzavier Reed, who pumped in 10 points during the quarter. Reed's three point play at the 4:18 mark helped erase BIC's eight point advantage, tying the score at 24-all. Pike followed with a dunk to put BIC back on top. Montrell James was whistled for an intentional foul on the play. Pike, who was down on the floor for several minutes, left the game and was replaced by DePriest, who hit both foul shots, putting the Mustangs up by four.
Dez Barnes' three pointer, followed by a Reed free throw, evened the score at 28-28. Clay Malone followed with a free throw at the 1:49 mark, giving the Warriors the lead for good, 29-28. Pike, back on the floor after shaking off his earlier fall, took a charge on EPC's next possession where he suffered his game ending injury. EPC got a late bucket from Reed and took a 31-29 halftime edge.
The third quarter was marred by a 20 minute delay in play when several skirmishes broke out in the stands behind the EPC bench. Both teams were sent to their respective locker rooms during the stoppage of play. Superintendents from both schools, Gaylon Taylor of BIC and Gary Williams of EPC, took the microphone in an effort to calm the situation following several fan ejections. Taylor warned the gym would be emptied and the game would continue without spectators if order was not restored. After several minutes both teams returned to the court for warm-ups and the game resumed.
Reed continued his scoring spree in the third period and teamed with Malone for 16 points to push the Warrior advantage to 56-45 after three quarters. DePriest canned two more three pointers in an effort to keep the Mustangs within striking distance entering the final frame.
EPC built a 59-45 lead early in the fourth period before the Mustangs began to claw their way back into the game. Nine consecutive points by McFarlin closed the gap to 61-54 at the 5:23 mark. BIC continued to whittle away at the lead, burying three treys over a one minute span, capped off by Juan Castillo's trey from the left corner at the 1:44 mark that left the Warriors clinging to a 74-70 lead, but that was as close as the Mustangs would get. Reed dropped in eight straight free throws down the stretch to help the Warriors hold on and advance to the championship game.
Reed finished the night pumping in a game high 37 points, including 17 in the fourth period, to lead EPC. The sophomore guard pitched in 18-21 foul shots on the evening. Barnes scored 15 while Malone added 14. Quinn Young tallied six, Aaron Scales and T. J. Young netted three points each while James chipped in two. The Warriors completed the night 31-42 from the foul line and made two treys.
DePriest and McFarlin paced the Mustangs with 17 points apiece while Alan Carmichael added 12. Pike and Eatmon scored nine points apiece while Dax Hurst and Castillo chipped in three points each. BIC hit just 10-20 free throw attempts but drilled 11 three pointers on the evening.
The Warriors punched their ticket to the 2A state tournament with a 72-63 win over Walnut Ridge in the opening round. Reed scored 33 points for EPC in the win as Barnes chipped in 11 points. EPC fell in the title game as Earle posted a 96-84 win. Reed again led the Warriors with 33 points as Malone finished with 21 points and Barnes and Quinn Young each added 11 points each.