POPLAR BLUFF — The Mineral Area Cardinals got off to a good start of their 2012-13 season with a 100-83 win over the Arkansas Baptist Buffaloes on Friday in the Three Rivers Tip-off Classic. To local fans coming in to see Three Rivers play in the second game, it looked like their home team was getting beat and they had missed most of the game.
Arkansas Baptist didn’t bring their white jerseys and had to borrow jerseys from Three Rivers to play the Cardinals in the Classic’s opener.
Mineral Area utilized a strong half-court trap to force turnovers in the first half, and coupled with an anemic showing at the line by the Buffaloes, 3-10, the Cardinals were able to establish a large lead early.
Turnovers were plentiful for both teams as were fouls in the first half, keeping referees’ whistles constantly blowing.
Sophomore Fred Garmon connected with a three to start the game’s scoring and the Cardinals never trailed the rest of the game. Two baskets each by Quantel Denson and Shaquille Boga, and one by Bryce Weibrecht along with three free throw gave the Cardinals a 16-2 lead.
The Buffaloes could hardly get off a shot against MAC’s stifling defense as they had to settle at making their points from the free throw line.
Weibrecht put down a slam for the Cardinals which was matched seconds later by Joshua Tarver for the Buffaloes, but Mineral Area continued to score in bunches until at 46-17 play began to even out until the final minute with the Cardinals closing out the half with six unanswered points for a 60-29 half.
The Buffaloes must have re-energized at the half as they ran off the first nine points before MAC could change their score with their first basket coming three-and-half minutes into the second half after turning the ball over five times to the Buffaloes now fired-up defense.
Arkansas Baptist began eating away at the 31 point half-time lead, successfully decreasing it to only 18 points by the 11 minute mark.
Struggling from the floor 11-30 in the second half, the Cardinals made up for it at the stripe, going 17-27, and the Buffaloes could not make up any more ground.
A tap-in by Jackson Conoway gave the Cardinals a 100-76 lead with 3:30 left in the game, and the Buffaloes scored the last seven to close it out.
Arkansas Baptist 29 54 - 83
Mineral Area 60- 40 - 100
Mineral Area - Boga 20, Denson 17, Tucker 14, Watkins 12, Raulston 10, Johnson 5 Lucien 5, Conoway 5, Garmon 5, Weibrecht 4, Clark 2, Reed 1.