The Raiders avoided a buzzer beater and in doing so, avoided their fi rst losing streak to start a season since 1984. "I knew this was going to be tough early sledding," Three Rivers men's basketball coach Gene Bess said following a 91-89 win Saturday over Link Year Prep. "Last night we got somewhat humbled and it kind of depends how the kids react if you lose too many early, a lot of times they will fold their tent. But we don't let them do that." Three Rivers' Keiondre Jefferson was called for a technical foul with a minute to go with the Raiders clinging to a threepoint lead. The Lions sank both free throws and added a layup off the extra possession to go ahead by one. At the other end, Aidan Saunders sank a clutch 3-pointer. Link Year tried a full-court pass on the inbounds, but threw into triple coverage and the Raiders got a steal. Three Rivers turned it over though, and Shakeem Alcindor scored through a foul to tie the game. He missed the free throw, giving the Raiders the ball with 20 seconds left. Jeffery Porter inbounded the ball to Chucky Wilson, who drove with 10 seconds left and drew a foul against Landon Bagley. Wilson made both free throws. "I was actually trying to hold the ball until about 7 seconds, but he had played out, so when I attacked, I went up for a shot and got fouled," said Wilson, who wasn't nervous on the foul line. "I've been through the situation before, so it was kind of regular for me." Added Bess, "Chucky has played well for us. He's pretty much taken over that point guard spot, he does a good job defensively, he's making progress."
Tyreese Davis dribbled up the floor, looked for an off-balance 3, leapt, changed his mind, and tried to pass as he was landing. Ludy Kayouloud picked off the errant throw and dribbled up the floor as the buzzer sounded to give Three Rivers a win at the Bess Activity Center. In 1984 the Raiders started 0-3 with losses to Paducah, Mineral Area and Shelby State. Two of those were at the Bess Activity Center. The Raiders built an 18-point lead in the first half before taking a 47-33 advantage into the break. After scoring seven points in the opener, Saunders led Three Rivers (1-1) with 26. He drew nine fouls and was 13 for 16 at the free-throw line along with 6 for 11 shooting and four rebounds. "It was a major turnaround. Going from seven points to 26 points, that's always great. I just wanted to always stay aggressive in my head and keep that in my head. My teammates got my back and they're always there for more," Saunders said. Kayouloud added 13 points and six rebounds and Jefferson had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. After making just six assists in their opener, the Raiders had 11 in the first half against Link Year and 16 overall. The Raiders did a better job on the boards against a less talented opponent and out-rebounded Link Year 48-32 and were plus-five on second-chance points. Three Rivers was minus-13 rebounding Friday against No. 13 Tallahassee (Fla.). Corey Bowen, who did not play in the opener, finished with six rebounds, including a crucial on late. "We were hoping Bowen would be our answer (to rebounding) and he got a big one down there late in a crucial situation," Bess said. Poplar Bluff alum Willie Lucas got his first start as a Raider after coming off the bench in the opener and grabbing seven rebounds, second on the team behind Porter's eight. Lucas, who didn't score in the opener finished with seven points and four rebounds in 18 minutes against Link Year Prep. Cameron Maddox also got his first start after getting going 1 for 2 on 3-pointers and 2 for 2 on free throws for five points and a rebound in 15 minutes against Tallahassee. He sank a trio of 3s for nine points and two rebounds against Link Year. Porter, Wilson and Kayouloud stayed in the starting lineup. "Everybody played a little better tonight than they did last night," Bess said. "Porter gave it all he had last night, he was all we had, and tonight Aidan stepped up and did some really nice things on the offensive end of the court. Some other guys filled in nicely around him."
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic