PARK HILLS – A firm defensive effort pushed the unbeaten Mineral Area men’s basketball team over Kankakee 84-64 on Saturday night.

The eighth-ranked Cardinals (14-0) controlled the game from the start with an opening 16-4 run. 

The domination came from pressing defense that led to 10 turnovers in just the first five minutes, resulting in fast break baskets.

Sophomore Lamar Morgan scored six of his 15 points in transition during the early run for Mineral Area, and recorded six rebounds as well.

The Cardinals were sharing the ball well, looking to score easy points around the rim. Zac Cuthbertson found success in the paint and scored 12 points.

The Cavaliers called a timeout just six minutes in after Cuthbertson broke away to flush his first dunk of night, giving MAC a 20-11 edge.

Mineral Area continued pressing hard for steals, and took a comfortable 42-29 lead at halftime.

The game plan for Kankakee going into the second half was to get sophomore Latrell Tidwell the ball. He ended with a team-high 13 points.

Sophomore Simeon Lepichev corralled many misses for the Cavaliers, ending with nine rebounds and eight points.

Sophomore Devin Thomas was on fire, scoring 10 of his 13 points in the opening three minutes of the second half.

Thomas was also providing a defensive presence in the post, making easy baskets hard to find for the Cavaliers.

The lead continued to grow in the second half with Mineral Area knocking down many more shots from long range.

Freshman Justin Storey provided a late kick for the Cardinals, notching 10 points to help close out the game.

Mineral Area will host Southwestern Illinois on Monday.

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Sports Reporter

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