PARK HILLS — With critical games against 16th-ranked Southeastern Iowa and Region XVI leader Three Rivers looming later this week, the Mineral Area College men’s basketball team needed extensive minutes and production from its bench on Wednesday night.
Reserve guard Steve Kerr answered the challenge with a season-high 20 points, including a 6-for-9 effort from three-point range, as the streaking Cardinals defeated Forest Park 88-77 for their sixth consecutive win.
Kerr connected four times from long range before halftime, and Mineral Area (17-10) forced a series of turnovers with defensive pressure to seize command with a dominant 16-0 run.
Byron Pickens matched Sean Scott with 11 points each, and completed a double-double for the Cardinals with 11 rebounds. Jeremy Felton added nine points and Eric McCrary scored eight.
MAC repeatedly pushed the tempo in the early going, resulting in dunks for Pickens and Felton, while Scott raced the length of the floor for a driving layup. Kerr gave the Cardinals a 40-20 lead with a second-chance triple.
Mineral Area extended a 16-point halftime margin to its maximum of 74-50 when Korey McDaniel and Scott drilled back-to-back threes midway through the second half, but the Highlanders never stopped battling.
Forest Park (12-16) capitalized down the stretch when the Cardinals failed to protect the basketball. Darrell Adams scored a reverse layup after making a steal and LaQuan Pierce slashed inside during a 12-0 spurt.
Adams, who scored a game-high 22 points and gave Forest Park the early lead with consecutive layups, trimmed the deficit to 78-69 on a baseline runner with 3:53 remaining.
But the Cardinals scored twice on their next possession by rebounding a missed free throw, and Pickens sealed the outcome with a three-point play.
The Cardinals finished with 24 turnovers and made just 4-of-11 free throws on the night. Those numbers will need to improve tonight as Southeastern Iowa (23-5) invades the Sechrest Fieldhouse for a rescheduled contest.
Pierce scored most of his 15 points after intermission, while RaShad May and Sean Gibson added 10 each for the Highlanders.
Forest Park 34 43 – 77
Mineral Area 50 38 – 88
Forest Park – Adams 22, Pierce 15, May 10, Gibson 10, Fajic 8, Gedeon 6, Goss 4, Begovic 2. 3-point FG – Adams 2, May 2.
Mineral Area – Kerr 20, Pickens 11, Scott 11, Felton 9, McCrary 8, Fulton 7, Smith 5, Hall 4, Guyton 4, Stovall 4, McDaniel 3, Rapier 2. 3-point FG – Kerr 6, McCrary 2, Scott, McDaniel, Smith.