PARK HILLS — An offensive jolt in the early minutes helped the Mineral Area women’s basketball team shake off a 3-game slide Saturday during its regular-season finale.
Sophomore forward Chelsea Pannier was a lethal 6-of-8 from 3-point range with her former Cape Central High School teammates in attendance, and the Lady Cardinals shot a blistering 58 percent overall to defeat State Fair 86-72.
The contest was ultimately a battle for the No. 4 seed in the Region 16 Tournament. Mineral Area (21-7) will host State Fair (19-9) in the opening round Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
Pannier scored 22 points to lead five Lady Cardinals in double figures. An energetic start saw the host club make nine of its first 10 shots from the field.
Sophomore guard Courtney Knuckles knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and Janelle Travis finished a fast break with a high reverse layup to punctuate an opening 17-3 run.
Knuckles netted 13 points and Travis had 12 in the victory. Ashleigh Bow provided a season-high 10 assists and three steals in a double-double while matching Chelsea Roberts with 10 points each.
Antounette Taylor poured in a game-high 27 points on 11-of-22 field goals off the State Fair bench, and her ability to attack off the dribble enabled the visitors hang around.
The Roadrunners also held a dominant 21-2 margin in offensive rebounds, and generated five shots on a single possession after falling behind 41-24 late in the first half.
The sequence culminated with a 3-pointer from Adella Randle-El, and prompted an argument and technical foul against Mineral Area coach Gary Koch after his players appeared to be pushed from behind.
Pannier answered with her fourth triple of the half, but State Fair closed to within 44-34 at the intermission after Julia Torres forced in a runner off the glass.
MAC was 11-of-19 overall from beyond the arc, and Travis buried a crucial three after a putback from Asia Mosely had trimmed the State Fair deficit to 55-48.
Roberts added to a 10-0 run by attacking the baseline for a 3-point play, and converted another on an entry pass from Pannier as the Lady Cardinals restored an 81-67 lead with 2:29 remaining.
The Lady Cardinals earned one more game at the Bob Sechrest Fieldhouse where they are 11-2 this season. The two losses were dealt by Region 16 leader Crowder and Region 24 leader SW Illinois.
Brittany Lawson scored eight points for MAC in her return from a shoulder injury. Travis sank two free throws and is currently 59-of-60 to lead the nation.
Randle-El scored 10 points and Apiphany Woods chipped in nine plus a game-high nine rebounds for State Fair.
State Fair 34 38 - 72
Mineral Area 44 42 - 86
State Fair - Antounette Taylor 27, Adelle Randle-El 10, Apiphany Woods 9, Sannayiah Johnson 8, Asia Mosley 8, Kaci Cason 3, Julia Torres 3, Kaitlyn Mercer 2, Mia Wesley 2. 3-point FG - Randle-El 2, Cason, Taylor. (FT: 16-23)
Mineral Area - Chelsea Pannier 22, Courtney Knuckles 13, Janelle Travis 12, Ashleigh Bow 10, Chelsea Roberts 10, Brittany Lawson 8, Tayla Corrigan 4, Courtney Fisher 2, Katelyn Sager 2, Rilea Huff 2, Joelle Daniel 1. 3-point FG - Pannier 6, Knuckles 3, Travis 2. (FT: 13-18)