For the first time in four seasons, the Carlisle Lady Bison are headed back to the Class 2A state tournament.
Carlisle (19-8) routed two-time defending state champion England 64-42 in the first round of the Class 2A East Region tournament at Bison Arena on Feb. 21. With the win, Carlisle will play Magnet Cove in the second round Friday at 7 p.m.
The Lady Bison have not been to the state tournament since losing to Smackover in the first round of the 2009 tournament at Melbourne. This will be Carlisle’s seventh appearance since 2003.
The Lady Bison were coming off an emotional loss to Hughes in the finals of the 2A-6 district tournament Feb. 16.
"I thought my kids showed a lot of mental toughness bouncing back from Saturday," Carlisle coach Jonathan Buffalo said. "They were focused on what our task was. We didn’t get it done Saturday. We didn’t get one of our goals but I told them that we still had a chance to go to the state tournament."
Buffalo said his team did a good job of handling England’s pressure.
"We were able to get easy buckets, breaking the press," he said. "Overall, it was a great team effort and a great win for our program to get to go back to the state tournament."
Early on, it didn’t look good for the Lady Bison as they trailed 13-9 late in the first quarter but Sloane Henderson hit a late three-pointer to tie the game at 14-14.
Carlisle scored the first four points of the second quarter — two each by Breanna Young and Faith Walker — to take an 18-14 lead — a lead the Lady Bison would never surrender.
Carlisle pushed its lead to 28-18 at halftime.
The Lady Bison outscored the defending champs 20-8 in the third quarter, including a three-pointer by Maddie Harrison at the buzzer. Carlisle led 48-26 heading into the final eight minutes.
Carlisle’s lead grew to 27 points at 64-37 following a basket by Henderson and two free throws by Walker.
Walker led the Lady Bison with 27 points. Young had 10. Henderson added nine. Presley Carter, starting in place of injured Callie Hillman, scored seven. Hannah Cooper and Harrison scored five points each.