PARK HILLS – The Mineral Area women’s basketball team is hoping to develop an upward trend with the Region 16 tournament lurking next week.
The Lady Cardinals rallied from a shaky start with a strong second quarter, and shot 60 percent from the field after halftime on Monday to defeat Arkansas Baptist 61-52.
Hayley Winter compiled 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and Mineral Area (13-14) avenged a road loss suffered three weeks ago in Little Rock, Ark.
Arkansas Baptist (8-15) knocked down 9-of-28 shots from 3-point range, but could not prevent the Lady Cardinals from patiently acquiring quality looks near the basket.
MAC misfired on its first five perimeter attempts, but gained important separation when Olivia Casey, Shelby Moon and Winter sank three triples in a row upon returning from halftime.
Laura Dick located fellow sophomore Alexia Perry inside for two field goals, then made a steal and layup during a subsequent 10-0 run as the Lady Cardinals created their largest advantage at 48-31.
Sydney Saxton scored a game-high 15 points, and Essence Johnson provided 13 for the Lady Buffs, who looked to battle back with impressive work along the boards.
Erin Meeks was responsible for nine of her team’s 19 offensive rebounds in the game, and totaled 13 overall. But numerous second-chance shots were missed.
Arkansas Baptist pulled to within 51-46 with 6:17 remaining. But Mineral Area instantly broke pressure with a long pass to Olivia White, who drilled a baseline jumper.
Winter restored a 58-49 margin with an impressive reverse layup for the Lady Cards, who will complete the regular season with a home game Saturday against State Fair.
Saxton slashed through the MAC defense and also buried an open 3-pointer during a 10-0 spurt, and the visitors eventually surged ahead 20-9 early in the second quarter.
Freshman forward Allie Golden powered a nice response by Mineral Area with three baskets during the stanza as Winter and Dick consistently found their teammates along the low block.
Jolee Carswell scored with a jump hook, and Golden followed with a conventional 3-point play that gave the Lady Cardinals a 23-22 lead and capped a 14-2 surge.
Golden ended with nine points and seven rebounds while Dick added eight points plus five assists. MAC enjoyed a 29-27 edge at intermission.
Moon was named Region 16 Player of the Week late Monday night after scoring a season-high 25 points in an benchmark win over Three Rivers. Winter earned that honor last week.