PARK HILLS — The Mineral Area men’s basketball team nearly erased its entire 20-point deficit Friday night with feisty pressure defense.
But the inability to neutralize the post presence of visiting John A. Logan put the Cardinals into that dicey situation in the first place.
Darien Walker scored 17 points and the previously winless Volunteers used a dominant 19-0 run during the second half to claim a 78-69 victory.
John A. Logan (1-3) overcame 22 turnovers and a near collapse in the final minutes to hold on. Martavian Payne finished with 14 points and Jay Johnson contributed 11 points with 10 rebounds.
Anthony Virdure tallied a game-high 20 points and Brier West scored 17 as Mineral Area (5-3) suffered its third straight loss.
Both players sank four 3-pointers as the Cardinals were 13-of-29 from beyond the arc. They also factored heavily in a 27-9 spurt that covered nearly seven minutes down the stretch.
Virdure cut the margin to 69-60 by drilling his third triple during the run with 3:10 to play. West grabbed a rebound and dribbled the length of the court for an ensuing layup.
Cardinals forward Randy Holmes then made a steal that was converted by West into a conventional 3-point play. Virdure swiped another ball away and finished in transition to make it 69-67 with 2:13 remaining.
The Volunteers recovered to force a pair of turnovers against MAC guard Aaron Cassell in the half-court, then created separation at the line.
Tre Green delivered a clinching basket while drawing contact for a 74-67 lead after the teams exchanged steals inside the final minute.
Cassell provided a bulk of the Mineral Area production with all 14 of his points in the first half, including three 3-pointers.
But Mineral Area allowed second-chance points to the Volunteers on more than a dozen occasions, and registered two field goals from 2-point range before trailing 32-27 at intermission.
Logan remained scoreless through the first four minutes and trailed 24-17 before its superior rebounding began to take control.
Walker and teammate Kaylen Shane muscled through multiple defenders for consecutive putbacks, and Payne punctuated a 12-0 spurt by burying a triple from the left wing.
The Volunteers earned a decisive advantage at the charity stripe, making 20-of-32 free throws compared to the Cardinals’ 8-of-13.
West fired an outlet pass to a streaking Virdure to bring Mineral Area within 41-40, but the home team was blanked over the next 5-minute stretch.
The Cardinals saw their first action since losing starting guard Cris Craig to a knee injury earlier in the week against SW Illinois.
Mineral Area will complete the Bob Sechrest Classic by facing Wabash Valley on Saturday night. John A. Logan will play the opening contest against Three Rivers at 5 p.m.
John A. Logan 32 46 - 78
Mineral Area 27 42 - 69
John A. Logan - Darien Walker 17, Martavian Payne 14, Jay Johnson 11, Sondale Conner 8, Tre Green 6, Russell Woods 6, A.J. Riley 5, Kaylen Shane 4, Jordan Martin 4, DeVaughn Johnson 3. 3-point FG - Payne 3, Walker. (FT: 20-32)
Mineral Area - Anthony Virdure 20, Brier West 17, Aaron Cassell 13, Djordie Babic 6, Bryce Weibrecht 4, Orlando Johnson 4, Randy Holmes 3, Malik Brown 2. 3-point FG - Virdure 4, West 4, Cassell 3, Babic 2. (FT 8-13)