PARK HILLS — The Mineral Area College Cardinals and MSU-West Plains Grizzlies regional game was marred by a brief altercation between players which resulted in three ejections, but when things cooled down, the Cardinals battled back in the final minutes of regulation to tie the game to send it into overtime.
The Grizzlies utilized perimeter shooting to gain the early lead in the extra period and they made good on several free throws to capture a 77-72 win.
In a very tight ball game, West Plains had gained their largest lead of the second half at 54-47 with five minutes left. Mineral Area tightened their defense and with a minute to go, Darrion Hooker drove the middle of the lane to lay the ball in and make the score 62-60, setting up a dramatic finish. Hooker finished the game with 16 points.
Brier West made a steal of a Grizzly pass, and an offensive rebound by Demetrius Harris resulted in a tie game as Harris quickly put the ball up and in. A missed free throw left the game in a tie. West Plains missed their last shot and a rebound by MAC’s Vakhtang Kadaria prevented a second chance as time ran out.
Three-pointers by Quinton Pippen and Lonnie Hayes, Jr. gave the Grizzlies the early lead in the extra period, and the Cardinals had to foul in the final minutes to get the ball back. Mineral Area could only counter the made free throws as time ran out for a second comeback. Pippen and Hayes would both finish with 22 points for West Plains.
Both teams were content to pop three-pointers to start the game, leading to some strong battles for the ensuing rebounds. There were 11 lead changes in the first 22 minutes of play with the Grizzlies taking a 33-31 lead early in the second half which would last until Harris’ game-tyer.
Midway through the first half, West Plains’ Demetrice Jacobs afflicted an intentional flagrant foul on MAC’s Riley Raulston and the two exchanged blows with players and referees stepping in to minimize the damage. Both players were ejected along with Greg Gibson, who came off MAC’s bench to try and assist his teammate on the far side of the court.
Upon resuming the game, the two teams did not back off on their aggressive play with several fouls being called and eventually players leaving in the late minutes with five fouls, but the refs kept the game peaceable the rest of the way.
A pair of three-pointers by West kept the Cardinals in the game as West Plains began pulling away midway in the second half by beating MAC on the offensive boards. West had a total of four threes to lead Mineral Area in scoring with 22 points.
The Cardinals (7-12) comeback down the stretch was helped by Kadaria as he closed up the boards to the Grizzly rebounders. Kadaria led all rebounders with 10 boards.
The MAC men will be at home on Wednesday to face the Meramec Magic.
West Plains 28 34 15 - 77
Mineral Area 27 35 10 - 72
WP - Lonnie Hayes, Jr. 22, Quinten Pippen 22, Travis Wilkins 17, Westley Hinton 5, Edward Simniok 4, Jordan Clennon 4, Marin Petric 3. 3-point FG - Pippen 4, Hayes 3, Petric, Hinton.
MAC - Brier West 22, Darrion Hooker 16, Demetrius Harris 13, Drew Thomas 7, Justin Keener 5, Josh Minner 4, Vakhtang Kadaria 4, Errol Isom 1. 3-point FG - West 4, Hooker, Keener.