PARK HILLS – Sophomore point guard Roman Young banked in a buzzer beater from just inside the midcourt stripe to help the Mineral Area men's basketball team enter the break leading 45-43 on Wednesday night.
Young made 9-of-10 free throws during the final two minutes, and finished with 30 points and seven assists as the Cardinals defeated Southwestern Illinois 95-90 in their home opener.
The Blue Storm relied heavily on their post play from forwards Jaalam Hill and Javonte Perkins. Hill recorded 15 of his 25 points in the first half, and Perkins posted eight of his 24 in the first three minutes of the second half.
Perkins added a game-high nine rebounds to his dominant presence, and Hill added seven. They combined for 10 in the first half.
Mineral Area (2-1) received a second-half spark from center Zach Cameron, who finished with 17 points and five dunks. Cameron had three throw-downs in the first six minutes of the second half, and finished an alley-oop with 1:45 remaining to keep a late double-digit advantage.
The Cardinals earned their first double-digit lead yet with 6:30 to play after Lance Singh finished a fast break layup through contact and converted the free throw for a 78-68 edge. They kept the difference above 10 for the next four minutes, but the opposition slowly worked its way back.
SW Illinois (1-1) switched to full-court defensive pressure with 1:20 remaining, and quickly picked of a pass for an easy Kenny Roberson layup to get within 87-81.
Oliver Stephen and Bralyn James each sank their lone 3-pointers of the second half during the final minute, but the Cardinals answered from the line.
Mineral Area finished 23-of-34 at the charity stripe as a team, and SW Illinois went 17-of-23.
The entire first half was very tight with nine turnovers by each team, but the Cardinals pulled ahead near the break.
Mineral Area utilized long possessions to create open looks near the rim while holding a slim lead. However, Braden Fitzjerrells and Stephen each connected from behind the arc on consecutive trips for their first baskets and a 38-33 SW Illinois lead with 2:45 on the clock.
Bobby Parker tied the score at 38-38 on his second 3-pointer with 1:30 left before halftime. The Cardinals forced a turnover immediately out of a SW Illinois timeout, and Parker flushed a lob from Singh to regain the lead.
Parker posted 18 points for Mineral Area, and Singh tallied nine points plus five rebounds. Jamie Ahale paced the team in rebounds with seven, while Kevin Hamlet and Cameron each had six.
Roberson contributed 14 points for the Blue Storm, and James finished with 10.