PARK HILLS – The fifth-ranked Mineral Area men’s basketball team carried on the momentum from its significant win against previously fourth-ranked Moberly last Saturday.
The Cardinals defeated conference rival St. Louis 82-57 on Wednesday night, and used fast-paced offense to their advantage by frequently pushing the ball in transition.
Fast breaks were initialized by Mineral Area (22-0) guards swarming the ball and intercepting careless exchanges, while other players raced down the floor to receive outlet passes.
St. Louis (11-8) committed 22 turnovers while the Cardinals finished with 10.
Sophomore forward Devin Thomas matched his season high by scoring 26 points. He tallied 18 in the first half, as was relied upon early and often.
Zac Cuthbertson scored 10 points in the first half, and Lamar Morgan went 3-of-4 from behind the arc as they each posted 16 points the Cardinals.
Djibril Diallo grabbed a game-high eight rebounds, while Mineral area had eight different players contribute on the boards in the first half.
Sophomore DaVante Harrell notched a team-high 11 points for St. Louis by driving hard into the lane to convert layups or earn free throws.
Mineral Area made 13-of-18 free throws compared to 9-of-15 by the Archers.
Freshman Raushaun Amos drained three long-range shots in the first half for nine points. Todd Simms also finished with nine along with seven rebounds.
Simms gave the Archers their first lead of 25-23 with 5:33 to play in the first half by going 2-of-3 at line after being knocked down on a 3-point attempt.
Morgan had previously knocked down two consecutive threes to give the Cardinals 23-16 advantage.
Scoring slowed midway through the first half as Mineral Area showed more patience offensively and St. Louis denied the post more efficiently.
The Cardinals forced turnovers at a higher rate with halftime approaching, and began to pull away. They established a 40-32 lead at the break.
Thomas dropped in an alley-oop layup on the opening possession of the second half, and slammed his next attempt after cutting down the baseline.
Cuthbertson added two dunks on an inbound lob and a transition tomahawk for a 66-46 advantage with 11 minutes remaining.
St. Louis found issues working the ball inside from the perimeter, and either missed shots or lost possession several times.
Mineral Area sophomore Mark Laros provided solid late minutes by utilizing his size and post moves to notch six points.
Both teams avoided fouling, and played clean yet effective defense to close out the game.
The Cardinals will test their unbeaten record in a Region 16 road contest at State Fair on Saturday.