PARK HILLS – Despite picking up her fourth personal foul on an inbounds play just seconds earlier, Holly Forbes decided without hesitation that the next risk was worth taking.
The sophomore forward blocked a driving layup attempt cleanly from behind, and helped Mineral Area escape with its unbeaten start intact on Sunday.
Forbes scored a tiebreaking basket with exactly one minute remaining, and compiled team highs with 23 points and eight rebounds as the Lady Cardinals edged John A. Logan 65-62.
The visiting Lady Vols had 7.7 seconds to execute a final possession in the frontcourt, but Lyric Campbell dribbled most of that time away before her delayed pass left none for a possible tying shot.
Mineral Area (4-0) was on the negative side of a decisive rebounding margin, but overcame that aspect for a second straight game by keeping its turnover count at nine.
Masyn McWilliams tallied 13 points and Natalia Lalic added 10 in the victory. Central graduate Caitlyn Holmes provided nine points plus four steals and four assists.
Campbell netted 14 of her game-high 29 points during a tremendous second quarter while adding five assists, and brought John A. Logan even at 60-60 with consecutive slashing field goals down the line.
With four starting freshmen and three others earning significant minutes off the bench, the Lady Cards wisely called upon their experienced all-American during crunch time.
Forbes received an entry feed from Connor Watkins, and spun from the low block for a go-ahead layup. She would then reject a second-chance layup by Johnesia Kyles with 27 seconds left.
Forbes calmly sank two free throws to create a four-point lead on a day when MAC finished just 18-of-34 at the stripe, and McWilliams split a pair following a basket by Kalveona Pepper.
Lalic opened the fourth with a difficult runner off the glass that put the Lady Cardinals ahead 49-48, and found Keanna Williams for a transition layup after making a steal.
Williams rebounded a missed free throw, and Forbes used a smooth head fake following the reset to convert a 3-point play and extend the difference to 59-52 with 4:13 remaining.
John A. Logan (3-1) answered with an 8-1 spurt over the next three minutes, but suffered 16 turnovers during the game. Kyles and Pepper each registered nine points for the Lady Vols.
Mineral Area shot a dismal 3-of-20 from long range, but opened the contest with a 6-0 run as Holmes had two early steals and resulting assists. A mid-range bank by McWilliams preceded an 18-foot jumper by Forbes.
Watkins drilled a triple off a kickout pass from Forbes to make it 15-8, and the Lady Cardinals forced six turnovers in the first period before encountering their own rough stretch.
John A. Logan guard Cali Wright was helped off the court with a right knee injury on what appeared to be an innocent blocking foul with minimal contact, and did not return.
Her teammates responded with an 11-0 run before halftime. Campbell converted two steals into layups, and knocked down a quick jumper off an inbounds play as the Lady Vols surged ahead 24-19.
Mineral Area managed to gain valuable ground as Forbes rested with two fouls. Holmes soared in for an offensive rebound and putback to end a four-minute scoring drought.
McWilliams hit a fast-break layup off an outlet assist from Lalic, then nailed a 3-pointer to make it 29-28. Lalic answered another Campbell basket with a pull-up three at the halftime buzzer, and the Lady Cards trailed 34-33.
Neither team enjoyed a lead larger than three during third quarter action. Forbes attacked from about 12 feet away and was bumped in midair while converting a tying 3-point play at 47-47.
Logan generated a 16-7 edge in bench points, but sophomore guard Evi Papadopoulou picked up two crucial assists for MAC while escalating the tempo before halftime.
The Lady Cardinals will travel to Senatobia, Miss. this week for matinee games against NE Mississippi on Thursday and NW Mississippi on Friday.
A rematch with Logan is scheduled for Dec. 15 in Carterville, Ill.