CARTERVILLE, Ill. – A needed rise in intensity and resulting 15-2 scoring run appeared to put the Mineral Area women’s basketball team in relatively solid position on Saturday.
The visiting Lady Cardinals needed less than four minutes to erase a 10-point deficit in the third quarter, and were suddenly enjoying a lead following a pivotal reprieve from their bench.
But a series of defensive lapses proved costly down the stretch. John A. Logan stormed back with an 11-0 outburst, and sank clutch shots in the closing moments to prevail 81-79.
Miriah Donelson scored 13 of her 18 points in the second half to pace the Lady Vols (9-2), who drained eight 3-pointers and converted 13-of-14 free throws overall.
Alicia Hornbuckle finished with 16 points and Farasia Hodge had 14 as John A. Logan avenged an 80-67 defeat from last month in Park Hills.
Holly Forbes, the reigning Player of the Week in Region 16, posted another game-high for Mineral Area (8-3) with 25 points on 12-of-16 from the field.
The Lady Cardinals shot a stellar 60 percent through the first 20 minutes, but settled for a 38-38 halftime tie after committing 14 turnovers and surrendering 11 offensive rebounds.
Logan warmed up with back-to-back threes by Destiny Cozart and Hornbuckle, and surged ahead 56-46 after scoring off a steal midway through the third quarter.
With three starters requiring rest and the defense struggling, freshman Briar Johnson and sophomore Makenzy Smith seized an opportunity to spur the Lady Cardinals.
Johnson finished with nine points and 12 rebounds -- both season highs – and earned extensive second-half minutes despite being the 10th MAC player to enter the action.
Smith buried a left-side triple, and Johnson was fouled twice on rebounds to reach the line. Meanwhile, the Lady Vols ended a string of empty possessions either with one shot or a turnover.
Madison Reynolds dribbled end to end before sinking a tying jumper in the lane, and Forbes propelled the Lady Cards to a 61-58 advantage on a fading bank shot from the post.
Donelson cashed in a second chance just as time expired, however, and the awarded basket sent a 63-63 game into the fourth quarter.
Johnson buried a 17-footer on the next MAC possession, and points from Smith and Forbes fueled a promising 6-0 spurt by the Lady Cardinals.
Logan responded by making four of its next five shots from the field, including 3-pointers by Hornbuckle and Shaniya Whitsell, and established an eventual 74-69 lead with three minutes left.
Mineral Area pulled to within one possession four separate times from there, but could not produce the necessary defensive stop to fully catch up.
Donelson swished another open three after a Johnson putback had cut the difference to 76-75, and Hodge hit a turnaround dagger to restore an 81-77 lead with 19 seconds to play.
Mineral Area used only five seconds to get a layup from Tyeshia Mitchell, and tried to induce a steal with full-court pressure rather than commit two quick fouls and concede free throws.
The gamble nearly worked as a tipped inbounds pass resulted in a loose-ball scramble. But the Lady Vols were awarded a crucial timeout as Donelson fell down with possession, and managed to hang on.
Smith matched Allie Golden with 12 points each, and Mitchell added 11 in the narrow defeat. Reynolds had seven assists plus five first-half rebounds.
Golden moved well on a left ankle that was slightly sprained in her previous game, and caught a dazzling outlet pass from Reynolds for a layup to cap an opening 11-4 run.
Forbes dominated inside by making 8-of-9 shots prior to intermission. The lone miss was blocked, and she instantly regathered the ball to score.
Logan began chipping away at a 17-9 hole with four MAC starters off the floor, and jumped in front 21-20 on a slashing drive by Cozart early in the second quarter.
The Lady Vols blew numerous shots within 3 feet, but atoned throughout the first half with strong work along the offensive glass.
Kaili Bacon and Johnecia Kyles recorded putbacks for the host squad after Mitchell dished to Smith for a 3-point play and 30-26 Mineral Area edge.
The Lady Cards will return to action on Jan. 1 for their two-day Holiday Classic against Malcolm X and NW Mississippi before opening region play against Three Rivers.