MOBERLY, Mo. – A shiny No. 3 ranking and impressive unbeaten stretch by the Mineral Area men could not survive another daunting trip to Moberly on Saturday night.
Although the Cardinals had masked a potential lack of depth throughout their 19-game win streak, the high-powered Greyhounds instead continued their recent Region 16 dominance.
Sophomore forward Eddie Creal scored a game-high 21 points, and Moberly led throughout the second half toward an 85-74 triumph while forcing 16 turnovers.
Tyrek Chambers and Dusan Mahorcic produced 14 points each, and the Greyhounds (18-4, 3-0) secured their 26th straight win spanning three years against region opponents.
Mineral Area (19-1, 2-1) fulfilled the need for a desirable start on the road through solid interior passing, and pounded the basketball into 6-foot-9 center Malevy Leons early on.
Leons netted 13 of his 18 points prior to halftime, and finished a give-and-go from Keyyaun Batchman, whose attacking layup moments later spelled a 15-11 lead.
Gabe O’Neal was also active in the post with 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Cardinals, and ushered in their largest edge at 19-12 with a powerful left-handed putback.
Moberly had yet to rattle MAC with defensive pressure, but found a spark off the bench when Chambers buried three deep 3-pointers in a row for a sudden 27-25 advantage.
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Kevin Legardy created another brief lead change favoring the Cardinals with the first of his four triples, but the host squad countered with an 8-0 spurt.
Moberly carried a 44-40 cushion to intermission despite watching Legardy splash a fading 23-footer at the buzzer, and soon began to control the paint.
Mahorcic dunked off a baseline cut, and Creal knocked down a mid-range jumper during another 8-0 run as attrition fueled the Hounds to a 63-47 difference.
Legardy tallied 16 points, and Angelo Stuart gave MAC a fourth player in double digits with 13. But both guards received less rest than usual out of necessity.
Terrion Murdix doled six assists before being assessed his fourth foul with 10:52 to play, and reserve Kevin Stone was promptly pulled following three turnovers. Tristian Mullins was also held scoreless with four assists.
Moberly had just established the game’s largest lead of 19, and received a key steal and layup from Chambers after a Leons 3-pointer brought Mineral Area within 69-58.
O’Neal had a dominant shift along the defensive glass, and sent an excellent pass ahead to Batchman. Murdix further teased a MAC rally by driving the length of the floor for a layup.
But Mahorcic followed a miss to extend a 73-62 gap, and Creal sealed the outcome on a drive after back-to-back threes from Legardy reduced it to 81-72 with 1:51 remaining.
Cortez Mosley added 11 points for Moberly, which entered the night averaging 94 points per game and pushed its current win streak to eight games.
Mineral Area improved its season free-throw percentage to 79.0 by sinking 14-of-16, and barely trails Sheridan (Wyo.) at 79.2 for best in the nation.