MOBERLY, Mo. – The best stretch of basketball and most obvious sign of team chemistry this season may be occurring at a paramount time for the Mineral Area women.
Sophomore guard Hayley Winter compiled 22 points, seven assists and four steals on Tuesday night as the Lady Cardinals eliminated a recent nemesis from the Region 16 Tournament.
Freshman forward Olivia White netted 12 of her 20 points during the first half, and Mineral Area left Moberly with a satisfying 70-65 triumph in the opening round.
The Lady Cardinals (14-15) advanced to face top seed Three Rivers – a hobbled squad it most recently defeated by 20 points – Friday at 1 p.m. in Jefferson City, Mo.
Dominika Skrocka added 14 points off the bench, and gave Mineral Area its largest lead of 59-40 after draining her fourth 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter.
Moberly (23-8) crashed the offensive glass for several second-chance baskets during a 10-0 run down the stretch, and eventually trailed 66-62 with less than 30 seconds remaining.
Winter padded the lead with two free throws, however, and tacked on a clinching trip to the line after making an ensuing steal.
The Greyhounds were paced by Lunden Henry and Anisha George with 15 points each, but could never establish the type of sizable lead that doomed MAC in two previous meetings.
Mineral Area moved in front 16-13 on consecutive 3-pointers by Skrocka and Olivia Casey. Winter threaded passes to White in the post for a pair of baskets to create a 29-22 separation.
As Moberly struggled to knock down jumpers, the Lady Cardinals attacked off the dribbles for two Winter layups and a 15-point lead in the third quarter.
Jolee Carswell chipped in eight points for Mineral Area. White grabbed 13 rebounds to complete a double-double.
Mineral Area sank 15-of-18 free throws, including 9-of-10 by Winter.