PARK HILLS — Mineral Area secured a defensive rebounds with 10 seconds to play, and three clicking passes enabled freshman Kasia Kiejdrowska to sink a corner 3-pointer as time expired in the first half.
It was an appropriate way to punctuate a dominant first half that featured masterful defense by the Lady Cardinals, who claimed at least a share of the MCCAC championship with a 68-40 victory at the Sechrest Fieldhouse.
Kiejdrowska provided a game-high 14 points and four steals off the bench, and U’Knique Gaines added 13 points as MAC (14-7) placed a dozen players in the scoring column.
The Lady Cardinals, currently 5-0 in conference play, must beat rival Three Rivers on February 8 to claim an outright championship. Three Rivers had to forfeit the previous matchup in Poplar Bluff.
Both teams embarked on a sluggish offensive start, but Mineral Area would recover with a 15-1 spurt covering the final five minutes of the first half.
St. Louis (14-5) committed 30 turnovers and netted just three field goals within the first 22 minutes — all from post players — as the Archers were completely silenced along the perimeter.
A jumper by Jalisa Mitchell kept St. Louis within 14-10, and a subsequent blown layup was all that prevented the margin from briefly narrowing.
Gaines revived her squad with a follow jumper, and the MAC offense began to operate at a sharper pace, sparked by steals and transition chances.
Kiejdrowska finished a physical 3-point play off an assist by Darrieon Clark, and excellent ball movement produced a baseline jumper by M.J. Buschmann. The Lady Cardinals enjoyed a 29-11 halftime margin.
The host squad connected on 10-of-21 from beyond the arc with Riley Reddin drilling the first of seven threes in the second half.
Lacey Murray knocked down her first two shots upon entering the action. Her deep triple from the left wing created a 52-20 spread.
Abby Hutson made a putback and 3-pointer to help the Archers avoid falling farther behind near the midway juncture of the second half.
Kalah Martin and Zuri Hill tallied nine points each, and Marshaya Sangster added eight as St. Louis shot 28 percent overall.
Buschmann contributed nine points and six rebounds for Mineral Area, which will host Moberly in a Region XVI game on Saturday afternoon.
St. Louis CC 11 29 - 40
Mineral Area 29 39 - 68
St. Louis - Kalah Martin 9, Zuri Hill 9, Marshaya Sangster 8, Abby Hutson 7, Jalisa Mitchell 4, Caris Johnson 2, Nika Ewing 1. 3-point FG - Martin 2, Hutson. (FT: 7-10)
Mineral Area - Kasia Kiejdrowska 14, U’Knique Gaines 13, M.J. Buschmann 9, Robneisha Lee 7, Lacey Murray 6, Darrieon Clark 5, Riley Reddin 3, Terra Helm 3, Ashley Ward 2, Alayah Cooper-Johnson 2, Larra Kubinski 2, Tayla Corrigan 2. 3-point FG - Murray 2, Kiejdrowska 2, Lee 2, Helm, Reddin, Buschmann, Clark. (FT: 10-18)