WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Mineral Area men’s basketball coach Luke Strege has gone with a familiar starting five throughout much of this season.
When the Cardinals needed to attack the interior of the MSU-West Plains defense Wednesday night, his most effective options came from the bench.
Dylan Williams compiled game highs with 24 points and eight rebounds, and fellow guard Za-Ontay Boothman tossed in 19 points as Mineral Area prevailed 83-82 in overtime.
Another hard-fought Region 16 battle went to the aggressive Cardinals, who were not discouraged from forcing their way into the paint after moments of heavy contact drew no whistles.
Mineral Area (14-2, 2-0) received 15 points from starting guard Dior Conners, and made 16-of-22 free throws while playing its first game in 3 ½ weeks.
Reserve guard Kyle Germany sparked MSU-West Plains (7-11, 1-2) with 20 points while hitting 7-of-7 from the line. The teams were never separated by more than two possessions.
The Cardinals matched their largest lead at 52-46 on seven straight points from Boothman, including a 3-pointer off a sudden stop and physical finish through multiple defenders.
Perimeter shooting spurred the Grizzlies to a response. They sank eight 3-pointers in the second half among 12-of-32 overall, getting back-to-back connections from Aiden Gair and Germany.
Kendon Peebles put West Plains ahead 60-59 on a baseline leaner, but the Cardinals regained the lead as Conners converted a putback against taller foes on the ensuing possession.
A couple of unforced MAC turnovers in the low post enabled the home team to hold an advantage late in regulation. Gagi Gvalia answered a tough Williams layup with a triple for a 68-66 edge.
Amarion Dickerson countered with a tying putback for the Cardinals, and Boothman matched a short jumper by Germany to make it 70-70 with 42 seconds left.
Mineral Area earned a key defensive stop for a chance to take the last shot. Lamontay Daughtery held the ball too long before passing to Williams for a perimeter heave released after the buzzer.
The Cardinals added some roster depth with newly eligible forward Martice Mitchell making his season debut. His lone field goal was a crucial turnaround hook early in overtime.
Defender Carlos Paul III was called for flopping on the play, and Boothman sank the awarded free throw to create a 75-70 advantage for the visitors.
Sterling White III led West Plains back with two straight baskets on drives, and Gair drained his fourth 3-pointer to forge a 79-79 deadlock.
Boothman followed with go-ahead free throws after tripping over a fallen Germany with 35.4 seconds remaining, and the Cardinals protected their fragile lead with strong defense.
Ibrahim Drame extended his pressure beyond the perimeter, and Manu Musemena deflected a rushed pass for a massive steal. Williams took possession and hit two insurance free throws at 83-79.
Rashad Weekly hit a long 3-pointer, and the Grizzlies fouled with 4.6 on the clock. Dickerson missed his front-end shot, but alertly deflected the rebound to consume valuable time as MAC escaped on the road.
The Cardinals, who host Moberly for another key showdown on Saturday, knocked down 16-of-22 free throws compared to 14-of-17 by the Grizzlies, and overcame 19 turnovers while forcing 15.
Gair finished with 12 points, and White totaled 11 points with a game-high eight assists for West Plains. Peebles provided 10 points, and Micah Garrett had eight.
Amarion Wilson and Dickerson drew early charging fouls, Williams drove end to end for a layup, and Mineral Area grabbed a 15-9 lead on consecutive threes from Williams and Boothman.
The Grizzlies came back with a quick 7-0 run, capped by a layup from Dallas Clayton off a deflected pass, and held their largest lead at 22-19.
Williams muscled in a difficult layup high off the glass on a double clutch, and Daughtery hit two 3-pointers for MAC ahead of a 33-33 halftime tie.
Conners nailed a 22-footer from the right wing after Drame kept an offensive rebound alive, and the teams were level again at 43-43 when Williams made a driving scoop through contact.
The Cardinals produced a 53-30 edge in bench scoring.