PARK HILLS – Steve Wooten provided energy and production in the role of sixth man, and Patrick Strzala used his perimeter stroke to help Mineral Area stay ahead of visiting Fort Scott.
The Cardinals protected the basketball well throughout an efficient first half, then weathered a shaky final stretch to prevail 85-79 on Friday night.
Mineral Area (7-1) enjoyed a 77-65 lead with four minutes to play. Yahuza Rasas scored uncontested on an inbounds play, and Strzala drained his fifth 3-pointer of the game.
But a sudden rash of four turnovers in two minutes enabled the Greyhounds to hang around. Andre Nelson notched a layup and separate 3-point play while racing in transition.
Strzala negated another mistake by alertly stealing the ball right back, and Darreus Brown later found Onteral Woodson ahead on a run out to restore a 79-72 margin.
Tanner Lackey sank a 3-pointer to make it 83-79, but Fort Scott (3-6) missed an ensuing three after coaxing another Mineral Area miscue.
Strzala scored a game-high 19 points while Rasas and Brown added 14 apiece. The Cardinals will host Roane State in a 5 p.m. contest on Saturday.
Wooten finished with 18 points and nine rebounds once entering the action. He scored three different times in the first half by extending possessions along the offensive glass.
Rasas provided eight rebounds as Mineral Area never trailed. Kachelres dished out eight assists despite missing significant time in foul trouble, but struggled with late turnovers.
Travis Zeno and Craig Jordan each scored 13 points as five Greyhounds reached double figures. Jeremiah August and Lackey tallied 11 apiece, and Evan Mitchell netted 10 in the paint.
Gabe O’Neal posted up for his second basket and a 12-6 on an entry feed from Kachelries, but Mineral Area would attack more often by dribbling through seams in the Fort Scott defense.
Brown nailed a nifty pull-up jumper near the left elbow, and Strzala was on target moments later from the left corner after receiving a kickout pass.
Fort Scott trailed 30-20 before drawing an offensive foul and getting 3-pointers from Cade Snyder and Lackey. But Rasas would absorb a pair of charging fouls at the opposite end.
Brown, who distributed six assists, added a left-handed finish just as the shot clock expired to establish the largest lead of the night at 42-29.
The Greyhounds answered a successful stop-and-go move by Wooten with a 9-2 spurt entering halftime. Lackey hit a short, arching turnaround in the lane, and Nelson made it 46-41 with a follow tip.
Mineral Area got an early triple from Strzala out the break, then watched its outside threat chill as Fort Scott continued to stay within striking distance.
Jordan found space in traffic to score two baskets, and Kannon Jones slashed across the post for a driving reverse layup for a 53-50 deficit.
The Cardinals hustled to earn four shots during a single possession, and extended the lead to 62-54 when Brown swished a 12-footer from the baseline.
Woodson did not play until the exact midway mark of the second half, but sparked Mineral Area by hitting an open 3-pointer and scoring another basket while drawing contact.
MAC finished 12-of-17 from the line while Fort Scott converted 7-of-11 attempts.