Three Rivers College officially kicked off basketball season at the stroke of midnight Saturday … or technically first thing Sunday. Raider Madness, the last one ever in the Bess Activity Center with the Libla Family Sports Complex expected to be completed before next season, featured a threepoint contest, a cheer performance and 10-minute scrimmages by both the Raiders and Lady Raiders. Rocky Raider also made an appearance and showed off his brand-new head that has been upgraded and includes a built-in air-conditioner. He still looks the same, but is just a little bit prettier. The Lady Raider three-point contest included DeNayia Holmes, Hailee Erickson and Dejah Malveaux. Holmes and Erickson each made 15 points worth of threes. Holmes was especially strong at the three-quarter spots while Erickson made eight of her 10 shots on the left side of the court after getting hot late. Malveaux finished with nine points. The shoot-off between Holmes and Erickson included three balls at each station instead of the customary five.
Erickson again made 15 points and Holmes got 13. Erickson made all five of the money balls and her final shot won it. The men’s three-point contest had six Raiders competing. Five of the six and failed to shoot every basketball in the 60 seconds allotted them. Only Alex Coggins, who finished with 13 points, worked fast enough to take all 25 shots. Chris Stocks, Jeff Porter and Aiden Saunders all finished with 11 points. Cameron Maddox had 13 points to tie Coggins. Willie Lucas, who left two basketballs on the table, won with 18 points. In the battle of the sexes between the two winners, Lucas sank every money ball and finished with 20 points while Erickson got 13.
In the Lady Raiders’ scrimmage, the away team beat the home team 21- 20, which amounts to little considering players were switching teams consistently. The short scrimmage resembled more of a practice than a game with coach Jeff Walk on the sidelines giving instructions from start to finish. “Their ability is going to be pushed and stretched. Expectations are high because the majority of them come from pretty good programs,” Walk said during the preseason of the freshmen heavy squad. Split into two five-minute halves, the first half was all half-court play. Sophomore Markeia Porter showed off an improved to spin move that was one of her go-to post moves last season. Holmes got a bucket and a foul in a paint for another highlight of the night. Both teams pressed upand-down the court in the second five minutes and both offenses broke the press easily while scoring doubled.
The men had one 10-minute half that looked more like a pick-up game than the Lady Raiders’ scrimmage. “‘Everybody was trying to get theirs. We accomplished very little other than verifying the fact that we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. The Raiders’ improved athleticism this year was on display, highlighting a recruiting focus in the offseason. “Things are slow, we’ve had a lot of people who haven’t been practicing for one reason or another,” said Bess who had three players sidelined Saturday. “I like the way they are working, but we have a lot of limitations.” Aidan Saunders dunked twice and Keiondre Jefferson added a third dunk to highlight the night for the fans in attendance. Both programs start the regular season at the beginning of November.
The Raiders, who also start their preseason schedule this weekend, will host Tallahassee Community College and Link Year Prep during the First Midwest Bank Classic on Nov. 3-4, with both games at 7 p.m. They will then face John A. Logan on Nov. 7 at the Bess Activity Center, with the annual People’s Community Bank Thanksgiving Classic two weeks later. The Thanksgiving tournament this year will have the Raiders play Hocking College, Tennessee Prep, and Northeastern Okla. A&M. The Raiders will finish the season with nine of their final 10 games at home, including all but one game in the month of February.
The Lady Raiders kickoff their season Nov. 1 at home against Lindenwood-Belleville JV. They have five home games in the first 11 days of November before starting an extended road trip with 14 of 17 games away from Poplar Bluff. Between Nov. 11 and Jan. 27, the Lady Raiders’ only home games will be Dec. 1, Dec. 2 and Dec. 5 against, respectively, Missouri Baptist JV, Arkansas Baptist, and John A Logan. Like the men, the Lady Raiders will finish with seven of eight at home and will play only one road game in February, which is at Jefferson.