A tale of two halves

Cassidy Qualls goes up for a layup during the second half of the Lady Mustangs’ face off against Springhill Tuesday. BIC defeated the Lady Bears 64-51.

NATHAN WHITLOW – Guest Sports Writer

The stadium is packed, but the crowd is hushed. Nothing seemed to work until they tried something different. That something different was a full court press. Confusion and fatigue seemed to dismay the opposing team. Pass after pass and turnover after turnover, the Lady Mustangs found themselves slowly inching back into the game. With each turnover comes a loud roar from the crowd, and an even louder roar after a layup. They finally found the Achilles heel of the opposing team.

Without senior Jenna Pike, the Lady Mustangs had to rely on someone else to step up and make big plays. No one would have thought that two underclassmen would be the ones to fill the shoes of the injured Pike. Two sophomores, Cassidy Qualls and Kaylee Greathouse, came to play.

After one quarter of action in the 2011 2A State Tournament held at the Mustang Athletic Complex (MAC), the Lady Mustangs, who currently hold a 34-6 record, found themselves down by 10 to the Lady Bears of Springhill. In reward for winning the North Regional Tournament, the Lady Mustangs drew a four-seed from the South Region. The Lady Mustangs were held to only five points in the first quarter.

In hopes of slowing down Springhill, the Lady Mustangs switched to a full court press to open up the second quarter of action. They were very successful in doing so. The press proved to be what Springhill did not want to happen. As a result of the press, Springhill began to wear down rather quickly. With only a handful of players on the bench, Springhill did not have many options to go to when fatigue kicked in.

The turning point in the quarter was from the five-minute mark and on as the Lady Bears were held scoreless. During this drought by Springhill, the Lady Mustangs scored eight points to erase their 10 point deficit to two points, 19-17, going into halftime. The crowd went into complete mayhem, applauding their team’s push to end the half. The Lady Mustangs forced the Lady Bears into 11 second quarter turnovers as opposed to only one in the first quarter.

Throughout the third quarter, the large crowd, mostly BIC fans, saw a different team. The Lady Mustangs were making crisp passes and hitting all of their shots. BIC’s first lead of the game came on a three-point bucket by Cassidy Qualls to open the second half, 22-20. The Lady Mustangs opened up the third quarter on a 12-2 run capped off by Greathouse converting a three-point play with just a little over halfway to play in the third quarter. The Lady Mustangs never lost the lead. Springhill came to within five points, but BIC quickly expanded that lead to 44-32 going into the fourth quarter.

As they did all year, the Lady Mustangs iced the game in the fourth quarter. They shot exceptionally well from the free throw line late in the game as well as kept the same intensity on defense. The lead never got into single digits. It was as high as 16.

BIC’s leading scorer, Brittany Fowler, was held to only two first half points, but exploded to twelve second half points. But that’s not all. She had six assists, three of which to Cassidy Qualls for wide open layups underneath the basket. She was key in icing the game as she went 5-6 from the free throw line in the closing minutes of the game.

Sophomore Cassidy Qualls, who scored a team-high 18 points, did all of her work in the second half. All 18 points came in the second half. Another sophomore, Kaylee Greathouse, scored all but two of her 17 points in the second half, including a few big three-point baskets.

BIC girls have advanced on to the second round where they will play the winner of Hazen, the second place team out of the East region, and Mountainburg, the third place team out of the West region. This quarterfinal matchup will begin Friday at 1 p.m.

Images from the state tournament games are available for purchase. Contact Tracey Yates at [email protected] for information.