SEDALIA, Mo. – Michaela Ayers rarely left the court during competitive games as a versatile all-state guard over four years at South Iron High School.
Among a group of freshmen continuing to define new roles for Mineral Area, she seized an opportunity to contribute enormous minutes off the bench Saturday evening.
Ayers compiled 14 points and 13 rebounds for her first collegiate double-double, and the Cardinals used an emphatic conclusion to the second quarter to defeat State Fair 83-60.
Mineral Area (4-5, 2-1) forced 22 turnovers and limited the Roadrunners to 31 percent shooting to earn its second road victory of the season.
State Fair (0-2, 0-1) played for just the second time after being delayed extensively by health quarantine in a nearly empty building, aside from the teams and essential personnel.
The host team seemingly caught an early favor when starting MAC point guard Jayla Sample committed two offensive fouls and Yasmine Pankey was likewise whistled twice in the first five minutes.
Ayers was promptly summoned off the bench, and made her initial impact by tracking numerous missed shots at both ends of the floor and drawing a charging foul within a five-minute stretch.
The offensive boost came when she drilled a 3-pointer to commence a pivotal 14-0 run. Ayers connected again along the right wing as Mineral Area carried a 42-26 lead into halftime.
State Fair was just 8-of-31 from beyond the arc, but briefly enjoyed a 23-21 advantage after getting two baskets each from Donnisia Harrison and Amaya Coakley.
The Cardinals responded through the low post. Kayleigh Winch battled inside for four quick points, and Mariah Stewart hit two turning shots on consecutive possessions.
Quincy Erickson converted a putback after Ashanti Davis struck from the perimeter, and Mineral Area outscored the Roadrunners 21-3 over the last six minutes of the half.
Harrison had a game-high 19 points, and finished a strong drive through contact to make it 46-36. But she was promptly matched by a steal and streaking layup by Pankey while being fouled.
Ayers drove into the lane for consecutive spinning scoops in the waning moments of the third quarter as the Cardinals built a 63-40 cushion.
Davis shared team-high honors with 14 points, and Sample tallied 11 points with seven rebounds. Winch and Erickson chipped in eight points each, and Stewart grabbed 10 rebounds while scoring seven.