State Fair Community College showed what it takes to be a champion Saturday night.
The Lady Roadrunners’ defense held Mineral Area to 36.1 percent shooting en route to a 72-59 Region 16 victory at the Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Center.
“We get a lot of transition buckets off our defense,” SFCC coach Kevin Bucher said. “Tonight when we’re struggling at the free throw line and not taking care of the basketball, it was nice to see our defense get turnovers and more importantly get points of them.”
Mineral Area (16-11 overall, 4-6 Region 16) committed 17 turnovers with 12 of them coming on steals by the Lady Roadrunners. State Fair committed 21 turnovers but still outscored the Cardinals 24-10 on points off turnovers.
The Roadrunners (18-8, 9-1) struggled mightily at the free throw line, making only nine of 27 attempts.
“Coach ain’t going to like that very well,” sophomore Apiphany Woods said. “Coach is not going to like that at all.”
Bucher said that his players might have been pushing a little two much.
“It’s a special night tonight when you have a lot of family members who were here,” Bucher said of homecoming and sophomore night. “They wanted to do well. They were hungry and want to look good for their family. The main thing was to win.”
State Fair outrebounded the Cardinals 28-18 in the second half and didn’t let them get any closer than seven points in the period.
The Cardinals continually made runs at SFCC, though.
“We forced turnovers because we’re a running team,” Woods said. “Coach wants us to pound them if we can. Usually, we get a big lead on teams and let them back in. Tonight, we focused on getting a lead and keeping that lead.”
Mineral Area climbed as close as 58-51 near the seven-minute mark, but the Lady Roadrunners scored 10 of the next 12 points to wrap up the victory.
“Don’t underestimate the sophomores. They want it bad enough; they’ll find a way to win,” Bucher said. “They’ve done it in big ballgames. That’s why we play a tough schedule. I think down the stretch, it’s going to help us out.”
Sophomore Antoinette Taylor, who sat out chunks of the game in foul trouble, sparked the rally. She made a 3-pointer, sank one of two free throws and had a steal and a layup for a 64-51 lead.
Sophomore Mary Sims sandwiched a pair of jumpers between two free throws by Mineral Area’s Darreion Clark for a 68-53 lead near the three-minute mark.
Five State Fair players scored in double figures. Taylor had a team-high 14 points while playing only 14:55. Woods had 13. Sophomore Adella Randle-El and Sims had 11 apiece, and freshman Alecia Cooley had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Sims had a team-high five assists, and Randle-El had three steals.
Larra Kubinski paced Mineral Area with 13 points, Kasia Kiejdrowska had 12 and Tayla Corrigan had 10.
The Lady Roadrunners, who wrapped up the top seed for the Region 16 tournament Wednesday, will open play in the tournament at 5 p.m. Friday at Mineral Area College in Park Hills. They will play the winner of the game between the fourth and fifth seeds.