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MAC men move to Region 16 final

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Mineral Area men’s basketball team overcame its aches and pains to earn its first Region 16 final appearance in three years.

The Cardinals defeated State Fair 76-64 on Thursday night to advance and avenge a road loss from five days earlier. 

Mineral Area and MSU-West Plains will meet in the championship game on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Jason Gym. The top two seeds in the bracket fell as MSU-West Plains earlier bounced 11th-ranked Moberly 88-87.

Lance Singh and Bobby Parker each provided scoring from a variety of spots on the floor to help Mineral Area (23-8) hold a lead during the majority of the contest.

Singh ended with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Parker notched 11 points in his first game back since an ankle injury nearly a month ago.

Jamie Ahale drained four 3-pointers and finished with 17 points for the Cardinals, while Maurice Edwards tallied eight points plus six rebounds.

Tyreek Scott-Grayson paced all players with 18 points for State Fair (19-10), while LaPear Toles recorded 11 points plus a game-high 11 rebounds. Derrick Brock Jr. was perfect on three perimeter shots, and added 11 points.

The Roadrunners built a quick 9-2 edge during the first three minutes by working the ball inside. The Cardinals immediately answered with an 11-0 run behind tenacious rebounding by Kevin Hamlet.

Zach Cameron and Hamlet frequently altered shots to protect the goal for Mineral Area in a close battle throughout the remainder of the first half.

Parker nailed a 3-pointer to put the Cardinals ahead 27-25 with about 4:34 left before halftime.

Ahale added a shot from the perimeter with 30 seconds on the clock, then Cameron closed the half with authority by slamming down a rebound as time expired for a 39-35 edge.

State Fair earned several early chances to narrow the difference from the free-throw line, but finished just 4-of-15 while Mineral Area sank 14-of-20 free throws.

The Cardinals established a 9-point lead four different times over the first 12 minutes of the second half. Singh increased it to double digits at 60-50 by connecting twice from the line with 6:53 to play.

Roman Young, who continues to battle an ailing shoulder, converted his first field goal on a 3-pointer, and Mineral Area captured a 68-56 advantage.

State Fair remained aggressive down the stretch with consistent drives to the basket, but struggled to capitalize at the line.

Mineral Area sophomore Bobby Parker drives against the Missouri Baptist junior varsity during a game on Jan. 10, 2018, in Park Hills. The Cardinals defeated State Fair 76-64 in the Region 16 semifinals on Thursday.

Mineral Area sophomore Bobby Parker drives against the Missouri Baptist junior varsity during a game on Jan. 10, 2018, in Park Hills. The Cardinals defeated State Fair 76-64 in the Region 16 semifinals on Thursday.

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