PARK HILLS – Mineral Area women’s basketball players Allie Golden and Makenzy Smith are well aware of how quickly a seemingly tumultuous season can turn around.
The sophomores were part of last year’s thrilling postseason run to a Region 16 title that included wins over three higher seeds as the Lady Cardinals struggled just to maintain a .500 record.
They were instrumental in another massive win Monday evening after being recognized for their final scheduled home game along with teammates Olivia White and Ella Gobald.
Mineral Area closed overtime on a 9-0 run, and knocked off 23rd-ranked Vincennes 80-75 after being previously dismantled by 36 points in early December.
“This is a perfect way to end my last home game here at MAC,” Smith said. “This should get all of us going for the rest of region play.”
Golden netted three field goals during the extra session, and compiled a team-high 19 points with nine rebounds as all five Mineral Area players scored in double figures.
Her ball fake and layup through contact snapped a 75-75 tie. Holly Forbes corralled the ensuing missed free throw, and added a pivotal putback for a four-point advantage with 1:03 to play.
The Lady Cardinals (15-8) capped the contest by making six consecutive defensive stops, and notched their first victory this season over a ranked opponent.
What appeared to be a likely triumph in the closing moments of regulation was quickly placed in doubt due to a brilliant performance by Vincennes guard Ladellia Maggett.
After Gobald gave put Mineral Area ahead 67-62 with a 3-pointer, Maggett used a quick move to sink a runner in the lane, then nailed a tying 25-foot dagger with 19 seconds left.
Maggett began overtime with back-to-back layups off turnovers to put the Trailblazers in front 71-67, and finished with 35 points, nine steals and five assists in defeat.
Mineral Area later erased a 75-71 deficit when Golden – who admitted feeling sick during the game – drained a jumper from the left elbow and Forbes spun past a defender to score in the post.
“I’ve made so many references to last year’s team. When we get down after losing a game, we can’t allow that to define us,” Golden said. “This feels like a complete game changer. We’ll be on the road from now on, so this should give us some momentum.”
Madison Reynolds faced a daunting matchup at point guard against Maggett, and overcame a series of turnovers by talliying 13 points and nine rebounds while going 10-of-12 from the line.
The Lady Cardinals showed determination and endurance with forward Tyeshia Mitchell unable to play due to an injury. Their starters played the final 15 minutes of the contest without a substitution.
“We’ve been working on rebounding a lot over the past week, and I personally needed that.” Golden said. “Knowing I might have to play that much gets me hyped, just knowing that it’s hard work.”
Smith logged a team-high 43 minutes and scored 13 points, while three teammates easily surpassed 42 minutes of court time and maintained a high energy level.
Gobald amassed 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists while Forbes totaled 11 points with seven rebounds. Briar Johnson provided nine key points in the first half.
Ivanda Hudjakova produced 14 points for Vincennes (19-5), which could not repeat the endless parade of transition baskets that occurred during its 98-62 win over MAC in western Indiana.
The entire first half was confined to a half-court style, and the Lady Cardinals regrouped nicely after the Trailblazers twice attempted to stretch leads of eight.
Christina de la Cruz followed a scooping layup by Maggett with another attacking basket to create a 28-20 separation in the second quarter.
Lainey Bell provided a big 3-pointer off the Mineral Area bench, and Johnson netted a 3-point play inside before her deep baseline jumper trimmed the margin to 35-32 at halftime.
“Coach told us that we needed to keep them on defense and work the ball around,” Smith said. “We couldn’t let them get points off our mistakes.”
The Lady Cardinals surged ahead in the third quarter with four triples in a span of four minutes. Gobald struck twice from the perimeter to power a 43-37 advantage.
Vincennes switch to full-court pressure moments after Forbes picked up her third foul and headed to the bench. Mineral Area promptly committed six turnovers in its next eight possessions.
Four steals by Maggett were each converted into points, including a go-ahead triple by Oksana Fastova with 5 seconds left. The sudden 10-2 run gave the Trailblazers a 53-51 edge.
“We just had to calm down, because when they started that press, we were all just going crazy,” Smith said. “But we came through it. I was really proud of our team.”
Mineral Area refocused and weathered the storm. Gobald got a fortunate high bounce on a 3-pointer, and Smith lobbed a short pass to Golden for a 61-60 lead with 4:38 left in the fourth quarter.
Reynolds was perfect on three straight trips to the stripe from there as the Lady Cards mostly controlled the glass for the remainder of the game.
Mineral Area will return to Region 16 play on Saturday, again seeking revenge at Three Rivers.
Matt King is the sports editor for the Daily Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org