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Cardinals find range in return to home court

PARK HILLS — The Mineral Area men’s basketball team relished the chance to play its first home game in more than five weeks Monday night.

Freshman guard Jacari Finley scored 20 of his game-high 24 points in the first half, and the Cardinals sank 14 3-pointers to hammer the Washington University junior varsity squad 112-69.

Orlando Johnson netted 16 points and Cris Craig added 15 along with nine rebounds as Mineral Area (11-10) landed six players in double figures.

The Bears were forced to conserve energy with only six available athletes. The Cardinals carefully picked their defense apart with rapid ball movement while committing just three turnovers in the first half.

Finley became the offensive standout once entering the action, going 8-of-11 from the field before intermission, including four 3-pointers. He notched a fifth triple late in the second half.

With the Cardinals holding a narrow 8-7 lead, forward De’Aires Tate threw down a dunk after making a backdoor cut. That basket marked the beginning of a relentless 24-2 run.

Djordje Babic added two 3-pointers during that time frame, and Johnson tipped in a missed jumper to create a 32-9 advantage.

Washington received steady production from its post players despite the lopsided result, and earned some easy baskets after breaking pressure.

Sophomore Mitch Styczynski led the Bears with 19 points plus a game-high 15 rebounds. Gabe Owens and Grant Koby scored 15 apiece.

Randy Holmes and Malik Brown both connected from long range, and Mineral Area carried a 54-28 advantage into the break after a sequence of passes sprang Finley for an open jumper.

The Cardinals focused on attacking the paint as the second half began, finding Johnson near the rim for their first five field goals.

Baskets from Owens and Styczynski kept Washington within 76-50 before Mineral Area pulled farther away.

Johnson finished a conventional 3-point play on an outlet pass from Finley to make it 99-62 with 4:27 remaining.

Aaron Cassell scored 12 points while Brown and Babic contributed 11 each for the Cardinals, who were 16-of-23 from the line.

Mineral Area has opened the Region 16 schedule 0-3 while battling injuries, but should benefit nicely from seven straight home games after traveling to face MCCAC rival St. Louis on Wednesday.

Washington U  28  41 – 69

Mineral Area  54  58 – 112


Washington U – Mitch Styczynski 19, Gabe Owens 15, Grant Koby 15, Patrick Lasowski 12, Chandler Malone 8. 3-point FG – Owens 3, Malone, Koby. (FT: 8-14)

Mineral Area – Jacari Finley 24, Orlando Johnson 16, Cris Craig 15, Aaron Cassell 12, Malik Brown 11, Djordje Babic 11, De’Aires Tate 8, Jake White 6, Randy Holmes 5, Bryce Weibrecht 4. 3-point FG – Finley 5, Babic 3, Craig 2, Cassell 2, Brown, Holmes. (FT: 16-23)

Mineral Area guard Cris Craig dribbles through double-team pressure from Washington’s Chandler Malone (5) and Gabe Owens.

Mineral Area guard Cris Craig dribbles through double-team pressure from Washington’s Chandler Malone (5) and Gabe Owens.

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