JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A third consecutive trip to the Region 16 championship round seemed like a long shot just weeks ago for a struggling Mineral Area women’s basketball team.
But a resurgent group of Lady Cardinals find themselves in that exact position following an inspired rally Friday afternoon against top region seed Three Rivers.
Khiandra Perry scored 19 points and fellow freshman Allie Golden added 16 more – both season highs – as fifth-seeded Mineral Area surged past the Lady Raiders 72-62.
Hayley Winter totaled 11 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists for the Lady Cardinals (15-15), who will face either State Fair or Crowder at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Lincoln University.
Three Rivers (22-8) surged ahead 46-37 late in the third quarter, then entered a field-goal drought of nearly eight minutes as Mineral Area ignited for a pivotal 18-1 run.
While the defensive effort gave the Lady Cardinals confidence, Perry knocked down two 3-pointers and Golden sank a series of mid-range jumpers to fuel the comeback.
Perry gave MAC its first lead of the game at 47-46 from long range, and Golden made it 51-47 on back-to-back shots with less than six minutes remaining.
Camdyn McDaniel cut an 8-point margin to 65-60 with an open triple. TRCC regained possession on a double dribble with less than a minute to play, but botched the ensuing inbounds pass.
Winter converted 8-of-10 free throws down the stretch, and Olivia Casey drew a late charging foul to help ensure the outcome. Mineral Area was 22-of-28 overall from the line.
The Lady Cardinals were arguably fortunate to only trail 15-10 after a brutal first quarter included nine turnovers and nine offensive rebounds yielded to the Lady Raiders.
Ge’Naisha Robinson finished a driving layup to give Three Rivers its largest lead at 20-10, but suffered a knee injury on the play and could not return after making three early steals.
Perry sparked MAC off the bench with 11 points in the second quarter. Her difficult finish while drawing contact brought the Lady Cardinals even at 25-25.
DaNayia Holmes answered with a triple for Three Rivers with just a few seconds left in the half, but was equaled when Perry banked in a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 28-28.
Mineral Area reached the semifinals with a hard-fought road victory over Moberly on Tuesday as Olivia White, Dominika Skrocka and Winter combined for 56 of its 70 points.
The same trio was limited to two made field goals on Friday, but the Lady Cardinals still managed to land four players in double figures and ultimately prevail as Shelby Moon chipped in 10 points.
A 3-pointer by Michael Everhart and conventional 3-point play by Holmes off a baseline inbounds pass helped Three Rivers restore a 37-31 early in the third quarter.
Everhart paced the Lady Raiders with 14 points while Holmes and McDaniel added 10 each in defeat.
Mineral Area won the final two encounters against Three Rivers in the season series after being dealt a 78-44 thrashing in Poplar Bluff on January 7.