PARK HILLS — Three weeks into their basketball season, the Mineral Area men already own decisive victories over three ranked opponents.
Their latest effort may have been the most impressive so far. Playing a fourth game in five nights, the Cardinals brought more energy than NE Mississippi could never match on Saturday.
Preston Turner scored 15 of his game-high 23 points in the first half, and collected 10 rebounds for a double-double as 23rd-ranked MAC dominated the battle of unbeaten teams 103-62.
Marcus Watson, Jr. totaled 18 points, four steals and four assists while going 7-of-10 from the field, and capped an opening 10-0 run with a nifty cross-over drive and layup.
Josh Meo nailed a quick pull-up jumper moments later, and conventional 3-point plays by Watson and Amarion Dickerson off steals created a 28-9 advantage just eight minutes into the contest.
Mineral Area (8-0) shot a sizzling 56 percent from the field while committing only 11 turnovers, and increased its commanding lead to 51-23 by halftime.
Turner, who was 7-of-11 from the field and 6-of-6 from the line, rebounded his own miss and threw down a dunk at 64-34 as frustration began to simmer for the visitors.
NE Mississippi (6-1), which earned a strong victory over Three Rivers on Friday, made 14-of-15 free throws but was held to an uncomfortable 38 percent shooting by the Cardinals.
Tyler Byrd scored 16 points for the Tigers before fouling out with 4:46 remaining. Dickerson earlier drew a charging foul against Byrd, and both players were assessed technical fouls after the play.
Jacob Howell and Josh Holman also picked up technicals for a verbal exchange in the final minute, and the teams did not form a customary postgame handshake line.
Meo chipped in 14 points and five assists for Mineral Area. He stole a baseline pass, and threw an outlet to Tyler Smith, whose ensuing lob was slammed by Charles Outlaw in the first half.
Savon Sutton ended with 11 points, and Dickerson had 10 to five MAC five players in double figures. Doreante Tucker equaled Smith with nine apiece.
The Cardinals turned in another solid free-throw effort at 23-of-32.
No. 25 NE Mississippi got nine points each from Caleb Parr and Tyler Shephard.
Mineral Area 104, Link Year Prep 74
PARK HILLS — Marcus Watson Jr. scored a game-high 23 points, and the Mineral Area men eased past Link Year Prep 104-74 on Friday night.
The Cardinals were a sharp 11-of-24 from beyond the arc, and drastically improved in season average from the line by knocking down 22-of-25 free throws.
Josh Meo and Savon Sutton each netted 20 points as five players reached double digits in the victory. Mineral Area steadily extended its 47-29 halftime advantage.
Preston Turner finished with 13 points, and Amarion Dickerson added 10 while Charles Outlaw and Doreante Tucker chipped in eight apiece.
Terry Lee McMorris paced Link Year Prep with 13 points. Donavin Young tallied 12 points and Makhai Valentine had 10 more.