PARK HILLS – The Mineral Area men’s basketball team converted stingy defense into a potent transition offense against an overmatched Missouri Baptist junior varsity squad on Wednesday.
The Cardinals constantly attacked inside for high-percentage shots, and forced 28 turnovers to keep building their early lead.
They remained aggressive late in the contest while utilizing roster depth, and secured an 88-39 win for their fifth consecutive victory.
Mineral Area (14-3) will travel Saturday for a test against rising Region 16 foe MSU-West Plains (16-2).
Kevin Hamlet provided the early spark down low for Mineral Area by notching 15 of his 23 points during the first half.
Dmonta Harris produced eight of his game-high 11 rebounds in the second half, while also recording 23 points.
Roman Young frequently slashed into the lane to finish with 11 points for Mineral Area, and Maurice Edwards tallied 10 in similar fashion.
The Cardinals rendered Missouri Baptist without a basket through the opening two minutes. Skylar Lemons drained his first of three shots of the perimeter, and narrowed the spread to 6-5.
Lemons paced the Spartans with 13 points, while Devin Cole posted seven points plus a team-high five rebounds.
Missouri Baptist repetitively settled for perimeter shots, but struggled to convert many times over outstretched defenders. Cole and Andrew Robben each sank a 3-pointer in the loss.
Hamlet began a 12-0 run by intercepting a pass at half court and throwing down a two-handed slam to widen the lead 20-11 with 11 minutes remaining in the first half. He added eight rebounds and three blocks in the win.
Lance Singh stretched the advantage to 32-12 with seven minutes to play in the first half by dropping in a layup after Hamlet blocked his second shot and delivered a three-quarter court pass in transition.
Mineral Area often disrupted passing lanes, and continued to push the pace for a 44-20 halftime edge. Jamie Ahale knocked down the Cardinals' first 3-pointer two minutes before the break, and Young made the only other.
Neither team scored for more than two minutes to start the second half until Mineral Area returned to Hamlet in the post for a layup.
Bobby Parker marked his lone points on an alley-oop slam in transition from Fabio Soehnel, resulting in a 50-20 advantage.
John Bowman added two thunderous one-handed slams that energized the Mineral Area bench down the stretch. Jacob Meinershagen contributed five points and five rebounds during the final 10 minutes.
The Spartans suffered a lengthy drought until Joshua Mosley made his first basket on a mid-range jumper at 60-22 with 13:30 remaining in the game.