PARK HILLS – Holly Forbes developed a propensity for taking control of close basketball games during her senior season at North County High School last winter.
That confidence seems to be translating quite nicely at the collegiate level, too, as evidenced by her clutch performance for Mineral Area on Saturday night.
Forbes amassed a season-high 32 points while hitting 14-of-15 shots from the field, and corralled 16 rebounds as the Lady Cardinals turned aside visiting Arkansas Baptist 77-66.
Tyeshia Mitchell provided 14 of her 18 points during the second half, and Mineral Area (8-2) averted a potentially grim result after committing 29 turnovers.
Kortni Collins had 15 points and four steals to pace Arkansas Baptist (1-13), which flirted with an upset bid before suffering its eighth consecutive loss.
Mineral Area negated its strength of shooting 54 percent from the floor by making only 13-of-31 free throws, but closed the game on a timely 13-4 run.
Forbes played 35 minutes and dished to Makenzy Smith after drawing three defenders for a basket that increased a 62-60 lead. She then answered a nifty leaner by Collins with a powerful driving layup.
Lainey Bell added two key free throws with 1:57 remaining to create a 69-64 margin. Forbes then scored after tracking down a long inbounds pass behind the Arkansas Baptist defense.
Mitchell followed her own miss from the line with a putback in the final seconds as four Lady Buffs stood and watched, and made an even larger impact earlier in the fourth quarter.
She sank an open 3-pointer moments after drawing a charging foul, then bounced a diagonal assist through the lane to Forbes for a 60-53 cushion.
A recent decision to redshirt 6-foot-4 sophomore Olivia White for the season had significantly reduced the Lady Cardinals’ overall depth in the post.
That void became more glaring late in the first half when forward Allie Golden slightly sprained her left ankle amid an awkward landing. She expects to play next Saturday at John A. Logan.
Arkansas Baptist recovered well from an eight-minute scoring drought by suddenly forcing a confused MAC offense into several backcourt turnovers in the second quarter.
Rakia Lane and Collins turned steals into uncontested layups, and Nikayla Fisher drilled a go-ahead triple inside a 14-2 spurt that put the visitors in front 31-28.
Lane had 11 points for the Lady Buffs, who pushed ahead 45-39 when Fisher struck once more from long range midway through the third quarter.
Mineral Area regrouped from another flurry of turnovers with two baskets by Forbes, and regained a 51-49 edge as Briar Johnson scooped a running layup around a defender.
Forbes remained perfect from the field until missing from the low block in the final period. Smith got the offensive rebound, however, and Forbes was eventually fouled on a third chance.
The Lady Cardinals grabbed the largest lead for either side at 22-11 when Mary Katherine Tucker capped a 17-0 outburst with a 3-pointer along the left wing.
Ella Gobald had seven points, and Madison Reynolds contributed six assists to the victory.