PARK HILLS – Attack the basket, draw contact and repeat.
That simple strategy proved fruitful Saturday night as the Mineral Area men capped the first semester with another defining, second-half surge.
Sophomore center Zach Cameron totaled 11 points plus 14 rebounds, and the Cardinals converted 33-of-44 free throws to defeat Illinois Central 88-63 at Sechrest Fieldhouse.
Bobby Parker shared game-high honors with 14 points, and Lance Singh added 13 among five Mineral Area players in double figures. Fabio Sohnel and Jamie Ahale chipped in 10 apiece.
Illinois Central trimmed a nine-point deficit to 49-46 when a driving layup by Martrellian Gibson with 13:28 remaining backed a 3-pointer by teammate Ian Milsteadt.
But the Cougars had no success in stopping penetration over the next six minutes as MAC repeatedly powered toward the rim and piled up fouls.
The Cardinals committed just six turnovers in the game, and embarked on a massive 20-0 scoring run that included some entertaining and contentious moments.
Singh finished off the dribble, and Kevin Hamlet added a successful baseline drive as the margin began to swell. Cameron later reached high to catch and slam a lob from Singh.
Tempers flared after Dillon Gilkey collared Singh around the neck in midair, resulting in an intentional foul. Trey Owens picked up a technical for ICC during an ensuing verbal exchange.
Cameron stepped back to knock down a 3-pointer for a 69-46 advantage, and Parker drained another before Maurice Edwards scored on the run to make it 83-53.
Mineral Area (12-3) will enjoy an extensive holiday break before returning to action Jan. 3 against Faith Prep. The Region 16 schedule begins three days later with a showdown against Three Rivers.
Leland Bradford scored 14 points for Illinois Central (2-6), which was 8-of-13 from the stripe. Milsteadt ended with 12, including a late breakaway dunk.
The Cougars jumped ahead 10-5 on a jumper by Trejan Walls, but consecutive 3-pointers from Ahale punctuated a 13-0 response by Mineral Area.
Illinois Central erased an eight-point hole as Owens tied the contest from the perimeter. Edwards had a 3-point play and Cameron located Singh for an easy layup as the Cardinals restored a 29-22 lead.
Dmonta Harris went 5-of-5 at the line, and equaled Hamlet with nine points for MAC, which maintained a 39-33 edge at intermission.
Starting point guard Roman Young missed most of the second half after being poked in the eye and later injuring his right shoulder. He dished out four assists.
Mineral Area College and the St. Francois County Rotary Club inducted former players Russ Schoene and Jerome Freeman into their athletics Hall of Fame prior to the game.