PARK HILLS – Michelle Butler displayed unmatched size and strength in the post to help the Mineral Area girls basketball team cruise to a victory over the holiday break.
Audra Passakarnis had seven points in a closing 9-0 run in the final 2:47, and the Cardinals beat visiting Dyersburg State 57-44 on Saturday night.
Mineral Area (12-6) changed its lineup in the absence of suspended leading scorer Lexie McCully, who was ejected in her previous contest at New Mexico.
The Cardinals finished with just eight turnovers and their defense remained strong, taking away from the paint the undersized and undermanned Eagles.
Butler attempted just five free throws of the night for MAC and had a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
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Passakarnis tied a game high with 18 points and hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to extend a narrow 48-44 lead.
He added to a pass from Destin Williams and completed the score with a running back down the lane. The final score was the biggest advantage for both sides.
Butler took a lob pass from Gabby Moore to build a 34-24 cushion in the third quarter. But the Eagles bounced back despite losing several members of the team to injury or illness.
Ava Craddock finished with 13 points and nine rebounds for Dyersburg State (4-9) and hit three impressive 3-pointers from within a few feet of the arc in the second half.
Craddock opened the fourth quarter with a 26-footer to make it 40-37. MAC answered each long jumper with a timely basket.
Tyler Conkright scored his lone points and Manny Amaefula hit a baseline jumper to restore the Cardinals’ lead to 44-38.
The lead changed seven times in the first quarter. Mineral Area closed with a 13-12 lead after Syrene Sanders made a midcourt steal and layup in transition.
Two Butler layups and a layup by Passacarnis continued a 10-0 run that created a 21-12 gap as the Eagles faced a six-minute scoreless stretch.
Momentum swung back though when Diamond Holland hit a 3-pointer and Dyersburg State cut the deficit to 25-22 when Sydney Neal hit a second-chance shot before halftime.
Adriana Skinner was often short of 10 points and Tyra Starks added eight in the loss.
Kathleen Chomko scored three points in the win amid a shooting struggle. Mineral Area returns to action on January 7 with John A. in Logan.