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Wild winter features MAC, prep milestones

Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a multi-part series highlighting notable events and achievements by local athletes during the 2016-17 scholastic sports season.

Shattered records, jolted brackets and buzzer beaters were prevalent throughout a thrilling and often unpredictable 2016-2017 basketball season in the Parkland.

Perhaps the most compelling storyline featured the continued upward trend by the Mineral Area men’s program under second-year head coach Luke Strege.

Although the hope of playing in the NJCAA tournament unraveled following a second loss to rival Three Rivers and the denial of an at-large bid, the Cardinals still bolstered their national profile.

A final 28-3 record included the most victories in a single season, and was spurred by an unprecedented 24-game win streak that began the season and carried into February.

Mineral Area achieved a No. 4 national ranking, and made large strides in the classroom. Seven of eight sophomores had cemented their respective futures with Division I schools by graduation day.

The Region 16 rivalry games with Three Rivers drew capacity crowds – both in Poplar Bluff and Park Hills – redolent of days gone by. The resurgence of Moberly added even more excitement.

The Cardinals beat the Greyhounds 66-58 on Jan. 21 in the first battle of unbeaten top-10 teams ever played at Sechrest Fieldhouse. The game would not transpire without controversy, however, as teams were allowed unlimited possession time due to a shot clock malfunction in the second half.

Mineral Area survived three straight overtime thrillers on the road, including an 80-78 triumph at Three Rivers after sophomore Shawn Roundtree hit a tying 3-pointer late in regulation and go-ahead layup in the extra session.

Sophomore forward and leading scorer Zac Cuthbertson was named Region 16 Player of the Year and a Third Team All-American. He signed with Coastal Carolina in May.

The Mineral Area women spent much of the season struggling for consistency, but delivered their best stretch of basketball when it mattered most.

The Lady Cardinals ousted three higher seeds to capture their second Region 16 title in three years before falling one victory shy of the national tourney in a 10-point home loss to Iowa Western.

Hayley Winter and Olivia White each tallied 18 points and 10 rebounds against Crowder as MAC used a dominant fourth quarter to win the region final 65-51. Freshmen Allie Golden and Khiandra Perry scored season highs one night earlier in a 72-62 semifinal upset over Three Rivers.

Mineral Area turned things around with a 73-53 rout of the Lady Raiders on Feb. 18 after being crushed by 35 in their previous encounter, and won five of six games to ultimately finish 16-16.

Winter received All-America Honorable Mention as the undisputed leader of the Lady Cards, and would sign days later with Division I program Siena. The two-time, all-region standout from Australia recorded a triple-double during a home victory over Dyersburg State in early December.

HIGH SCHOOL HOOPS

From Jacob Meinershagen’s game winner in Ironton to Peyton Blair’s answered prayer in Hillsboro, the high school basketball season had no shortage of frantic finishes and seeding upsets.

A new facility was introduced in Farmington as Black Knight Fieldhouse hosted its first basketball games in a varsity doubleheader that saw the boys trounce Cape Central and girls fall to Sullivan.

Class 3, District 3 championship trophies were brought back to Central when the Rebels defeated West County 67-57 and Lady Rebels outlasted Steelville 59-45 in Leadwood.

Class 4, District 2 tournaments reached dramatic conclusions and – in one case – a stunning outcome, thanks to a postseason surge by the Potosi girls.

The Lady Trojans carried the bottom seed in the bracket, but upended the top three contenders for their first title in 12 years. Blair sank a desperation 3-pointer with 8 seconds left in a 41-40 triumph over No. 1 seed North County.

North County had just punctuated its own stellar run as the No. 5 seed in the MAAA Tournament. The Lady Raiders likewise beat three higher seeds by a combined total of 10 points.

Farmington topped Hillsboro 49-45 to win the Central Christmas boys tournament, but the Hawks emerged with a 39-38 win on their home court for a district championship.

The MAAA boys’ final saw Farmington defeat Central 56-41 for its 10th title in 13 years. The Knights avenged a last-second loss on a Wade Scherffius slashing layup that the Rebels rode to an eventual Large-School title.

Farmington clinched the Large-School girls championship with one game remaining after Potosi pulled a massive upset over Central.

The Arcadia Valley girls extended their regular-season conference win streak to 25 games while taking Small-School division supremacy for the fifth straight year. They also defeated Naylor in Fredericktown to pick up their first tournament title of any kind since 2008.

North County repeated as champions of the girls’ Fountain City Classic, and the Bismarck boys marked a fast start by winning the Valley Tournament.

West County stood atop the Small-School boys division, and electrified a capacity crowd by clipping top seed Ellington 41-38 for first place at the Arcadia Valley Thanksgiving Tournament.

Meinershagen turned and swished a long 3-pointer as time expired to set off that celebration. The shot was among many notable buzzer beaters or late daggers to occur throughout the winter.

Ste. Genevieve senior Madison Reynolds made a driving layup with 4 seconds left to sink Murphysboro (Ill.) on a final shot for the second straight year in the season opener.

The Dragons later claimed third place at the Central Christmas Tournament in identical fashion to the previous year when senior Emma Meyer nailed a corner 3 to beat South Iron.

The North County girls debuted by topping Cuba 50-46 after freshman Kayleigh Winch knocked down a congested runner, and bounced AV from the MAAA semifinals 53-51 after holding possession for the last 100 seconds when Alyssa Huber dropped in a follow jumper at the buzzer.

AV senior Jerrika Brockes snapped a 47-47 tie with 14 seconds left in a home triumph over Farmington on Dec. 7, and Bismarck’s Madison Dugal beat the overtime buzzer with a third chance winner against Viburnum one night later.

The Kingston boys notched exciting wins nine days apart. Kielan Reyes turned a stolen inbounds pass into a decisive basket at the final horn against St. Paul, and Steven Mitchelle landed a 3-pointer with three seconds to play in a two-point win over Grandview.

Bismarck overcame foul trouble at home to edge Arcadia Valley 73-72 in boys action after Austin Droege swished a turning triple with no time remaining. West County downed the Indians one week later when a late layup by Reid Pratt trumped a 12-0 Bismarck surge in the closing minutes.

West County also edged the Bismarck girls in overtime during regular season action following a tying three by junior Alyssa Roever at the end of regulation.

Alyssa Sago momentarily rescued Bismarck in an MAAA consolation game by banking in a 45-footer, but Valle Catholic prevailed 55-50 in overtime after squandering an 18-point cushion in the second half.

Central guard Brandon Wagner, who originally opted to forego his senior season, had an unforgettable performance against Valle Catholic at the MAAA Tournament.

Wagner tied a state record with 16 3-point field goals after going 9-for-9 in the first quarter, and scored 52 points overall in a new single-game high for the Rebels.

North County junior Hayden Sprenkel continued as a lethal perimeter threat. He sank 10 threes in one contest and nine in another, and also netted a career-high 42 points against Perryville.

Valley senior Zach Turner buried a dozen triples in a blowout of Marquand, and Central reserve Peyton Bradley knocked down nine against De Soto. Sago had eight 3-poitners in four separate games.

While Wagner and Sprenkel had the highest single-game point totals in the area, there were plenty of other standout individual efforts.

Holly Forbes had 39 points against University City, while Austin Jarvis of Bismarck, Sydni Basler of Valle Catholic and Catherine Mell of St. Paul posted season-highs of 38.

Cole Wood compiled 37 for Valle in the finals of the Warrior Winter Classic, and Reynolds twice tallied 36 for Ste. Genevieve, including her final game against Dexter in district play.

Career scoring records were obliterated twice at North County. Forbes stamped her legacy for the Lady Raiders with 1,756 points.

Sprenkel topped the boys’ total of 1,560 by P.J. Jones that stood for 20 years during a district tourney loss to Potosi, and has an entire senior campaign remaining.

Reynolds netted six 30-point games as a senior, and now holds three major standards at Ste. Genevieve. She finished with four-year totals of 1,641 points, 425 assists and 328 steals.

The St. Paul girls varsity program completed its third year of existence. Mell will be chased by future Giants after compiling 1,474 points, 638 rebounds and 269 blocks.

Sago was the first of four MAAA players this season to surpass 1,500 varsity points, and ended with 1,835 to lead all active players in the conference.

The 1,000-point club welcomed 11 new members locally, including five juniors. Arcadia Valley senior Briar Johnson was the first of three to cross that threshold before Christmas.

She was followed by Jarvis, Meinershagen, Sprenkel, Wagner, Basler, Arcadia Valley guard Jake Pryor, Fredericktown center Raylyn Dodd, Farmington guard Brendon Hardy and Valley teammates Lauryn Gallaher and Lexie Black.

Despite the abundance of shiny numbers across the area, only Central’s Skyler Amonette was selected by coaches for all-state honors. The junior guard averaged 15 points and 3.1 assists while shooting 76 percent from the line, and was a key defensive presence.

The Lady Rebels dominated AV 65-38 to win their home tournament for the fourth straight year.

WRESTLING

While team titles were beyond reach for local wrestling programs, two individuals sought to complete perfect seasons atop the Class 2 state medals podium.

Junior Ben Turnbough was moments away from becoming the first state champion in Potosi history, but finished 40-1 overall while taking second place at 182 pounds.

Turnbough, who was edged by a late takedown, claimed titles in Class 2, District 1 along with the McCluer South and De Soto tournaments.

Ste. Genevieve sent seven athletes to the state meet, none of whom were seniors, and collected three medals in Class 2 after going a perfect 7-for-7 in the first round.

Wade Hahn suffered his lone loss of the season in a 1-0 quarterfinal decision, but rebounded on the final day of competition to place third at 195 pounds with a 42-1 mark.

Teammate Jared Humbolt likewise took third at 145 pounds, and Grant Staffen picked up fifth at 132 pounds for the Dragons, whose string of 12 straight district crowns was snapped by St. Clair.

Farmington’s Bradly Harman (113) finished sixth in Class 3 while Central heavyweight Matt Dean had the same result in Class 2.

The Knights placed third at a deep Neosho tournament in December. Dylan Allen headlined the 160-pound division by going 5-0 at the event.

Noah Juliette of Potosi and Kwinton Burnett of Central won their respective brackets at McCluer South.

Mineral Area forward Devin Thomas (5) dunks during a game against Moberly on Jan. 21, 2017, at Sechrest Fieldhouse. The sixth-ranked Cardinals topped the fourth-ranked Greyhounds 66-58 after both teams entered the contest unbeaten.

Mineral Area forward Devin Thomas (5) dunks during a game against Moberly on Jan. 21, 2017, at Sechrest Fieldhouse. The sixth-ranked Cardinals topped the fourth-ranked Greyhounds 66-58 after both teams entered the contest unbeaten.

North County junior Hayden Sprenkel (24) and senior Holly Forbes (35) broke the career scoring records for their respective programs last winter.

North County junior Hayden Sprenkel (24) and senior Holly Forbes (35) broke the career scoring records for their respective programs last winter.

Potosi junior Ben Turnbough finished his season with a 40-1 record, and placed highest among local wrestlers at the MSHSAA state tournament by taking second in Class 2 at 182 pounds.

Potosi junior Ben Turnbough finished his season with a 40-1 record, and placed highest among local wrestlers at the MSHSAA state tournament by taking second in Class 2 at 182 pounds.

Matt King is the sports editor for the Daily Journal. Contact him at mking@dailyjournalonine.com

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