HILLSBORO — The Mineral Area Cardinals captured their fifth Region 16 title, defeating the Moberly Greyhounds by a score of 77-70 in the Region‘s Tournament Championship Game on Saturday.
The two teams had split their two regular-season encounters with both wins coming on the opponent’s floor. Being played on a neutral floor at Jefferson College, neither team could claim home-court advantage, and the Cardinals proved to be the better team.
The game for the most part became a three-point shooting contest with the two teams combining for 46 attempts from beyond the circle with only 16 made. Mineral Area won the contest, 9-7. They also won out at the free-throw line where they collected 22 points to Moberly’s 15.
The perimeter shooting was one of streaks with Moberly missing seven straight after starting the game 3-4. Mineral Area had the same problem, but in the second half of play. The Cardinals missed six straight to start the second half, until Jay Raulston managed to make the first of four by the team.
Mike Anderson started the three-point shooting and also the game’s scoring with an opening three for the Greyhounds. Anderson led Moberly in scoring and rebounds with 31 points and 10 boards.
The Greyhounds took a substantial lead early, 21-9 with 9:30 already ticked off the clock, but 30 seconds later a pair of free throws by Jay Raulston pulled the Cardinals to within five as D’Angelo Tucker unloaded a pair of threes in the run.
Tucker would make a third in the first half to close the gap to 25-22 as the Greyhounds kept trying to zero in from long range.
Raulston made it a one-point game with a three and a free throw with five minutes left, and Shaquille Boga scored a conventional three to give the Cardinals their first lead at 28-27. Raulston tacked on his second three, and the Greyhounds called time-out, for the second time in a one minute span, to try and readjust their defense.
Denzel Reed scored an uncontested lay-up off of a feed by Boga to polish off the first-half scoring, 37-31, in favor of the Cardinals.
It took a little while, but the Greyhounds caught up and passed the Cardinals at 47-45 on a conventional three by Anderson. The game had five lead changes, and yet only one tied score at 55-55. MAC had called time with 5:36 left in the game, and Leon Watkins nailed a three immediately following to knot up the score.
Anderson responded in kind to give the lead back to the Greyhounds, but seconds later Tucker scored his fourth three of the game for a 62-60 lead, which sent the Greyhounds scurrying to their bench to talk things over with their coach. Tucker finished the game with 15 points.
Raulston beat Moberly’s defense to the basket on a fast break, but was hammered to the floor on an intentional foul. Raulston made one of two to finish 12-14 at the line and with 23 points to lead the Cardinals in scoring. Raulston also led the team in rebounds with 10.
The Cardinals took advantage of the extra possession after the intentional with Boga banking in a three, and he followed it with two free-throws on MAC’s next possession for a 68-63 lead with 91 seconds left. Boga scored 20 points for the Cardinals
Moberly was forced to foul in the final minute as the Cardinals would not cough up the ball, having only four turnovers in the entire game, but a 12-16 performance going down the stretch cinched up the title for the Cardinals.
Mineral Area shot 40 percent from the floor and 76 percent from the line, and they won the rebound battle 29-24 as they held the Greyhounds to only four rebounds on the offensive board.
At the game conclusion, Mineral Area Coach Corey Tate was awarded Coach of the Year for Region 16. Raulston had been honored earlier in the week with Player of the Year.
Mineral Area will play at the winner of the Region 4 (Northern Illinois) tournament on Saturday for a district championship and a berth in the National Tournament.
Moberly 31 39 - 70
Mineral Area 37 40 - 77
Moberly - Mike Anderson 31, TJ White 14, Trent Washington 11, Evan Singletary 7, Rayshawn Simmions 5, Brennan Hughes 2. 3-point FG - Washington 3, Anderson 2, Singletary, Simmions. (FT: 15-17).
Mineral Area - Jay Raulston 23, Shaquille Boga 20, D’Angelo Tucker 15, Leon Watkins 11, Denzel Reed 8. 3-point FG - Tucker 4, Raulston 3, Watkins, Boga. (FT: 22-29).