HILLSBORO, Mo. — A trip to Jefferson College has always ended in defeat for the Mineral Area women’s basketball team since the turn of the century, including several games decided by lopsided margins.
The latest venture Wednesday night also contained its glitches as the Lady Cardinals were slowed by 27 turnovers. But stifling work at the defensive end yielded a much different outcome.
Mineral Area limited its nearest Region XVI rival to just 4-of-26 shooting from 3-point range, and physically wore the Vikings down while pulling away for an elusive 66-47 triumph.
Sophomore forward Brittany Lawson compiled 14 points with 11 rebounds, notching her second double-double in three games, and repeatedly drew the attention of multiple defenders near the basket.
Chelsea Roberts also finished with 14 points in the post and Ashleigh Bow added 10 as the 19th-ranked Lady Cardinals (9-1) closed with an emphatic 21-5 run.
“It’s the most satisfying win we’ve had so far this season because Jefferson beat us twice last year,” said sophomore guard Courtney Knuckles with her right elbow wrapped in ice. “We know it’s almost a blood battle every time we play them. We had to come in here mentally prepared.”
Mineral Area grabbed 36 defensive rebounds compared to just 10 for the Vikings (4-3), and overcame the early mistakes by making 62 percent of its field-goal attempts in the first half.
Sierra Contreras tallied a game-high 18 points and Paris Bridges scored 12 to pace Jefferson, which twice managed to draw within a single basket after trailing 30-24 at the intermission.
Bow made a key putback to counter a triple from Vikings forward Callie Jo Smith, and Lawson converted a 3-point play after catching a transition lob to restore a 45-40 advantage.
“At halftime we decided to slow down and play our game,” said Lawson, who was 5-of-5 from the line over the last nine minutes. “They would double me sometimes, but then lag off a little bit. When they did double me, I saw my teammates and passed them the ball.”
Mineral Area caught a favorable break when the Vikings fumbled a 2-on-0 fast break out of bounds near the midway mark of the second half.
The Lady Cardinals earned second-chance points on three occasions during a span of four possessions from there to create separation.
“We practice that situation where you’re lead is down to four with about two minutes to go. What are you going to do?” Koch said. “I’m really proud of them for sticking in there.”
Janelle Travis drained a 3-pointer from straight away, and Bow added her second of the contest with 4:41 to play, resulting in a 58-45 Mineral Area cushion that would not be challenged again.
Contreras became the primary offensive option for Jefferson as the action progressed, but forced numerous awkward shots down the stretch.
“I drew the assignment against her, and we discussed at halftime how she liked to dribble right a lot,” Knuckles said. “My goal in the second half was to force her left as much as possible.”
Mineral Area distributed significant minutes to 12 different players, and 10 of them scored during the first half. That conversation of energy was evident as the Lady Cardinals seized command late.
“I think our depth had some things to do with winning the game,” Koch said. “Our second group was pretty good tonight.”
An open 3-pointer by Chelsea Pannier extended an 11-10 Mineral Area lead. Rilea Huff faked a defender off the dribble and drilled a subsequent 16-footer.
MAC will host Olney Central on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tip-off. Jefferson will visit the Bob Sechrest Fieldhouse for a rematch on January 9.
Mineral Area 30 36 - 66
Jefferson 24 23 - 47
Mineral Area - Brittany Lawson 14, Chelsea Roberts 14, Ashleigh Bow 10, Janelle Travis 8, Courtney Knuckles 5, Chelsea Pannier 5, Tayla Corrigan 4, Katelyn Sager 2, Rilea Huff 2, Courtney Fisher 2. 3-point FG - Bow 2, Travis, Knuckles, Pannier. (FT: 13-20)
Jefferson - Sierra Contreras 18, Paris Bridges 12, Shaia Horton 9, Jett Bouchaert 2, Elaine Herrera 2, Callie Jo Horton 2, Danielle Lofton 2. 3-point FG - Contreras 2, Bridges, Horton. (FT: 3-12)