The Raiders are 1-1 after the first weekend of the regular season for the second consecutive year. A scorching 10 minutes of play in the first half wasn't enough to overcome a tall, lengthy Wabash Valley (Ill.) team. The Raiders were kept at bay in the second half as the Warriors fought for a 70-65 comeback victory, erasing what was once a 16-point deficit. "Our kids came to play," Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. "I was really pleased with our effort early. We hit big shots, and then we finally got caught up in some things." Three Rivers was seeking a 2-0 start for the first time in two years after last season's 12-18 campaign. The Raiders got a big momentum boost after a 93-61 thumping of North Lake on Friday to open their season. Wabash Valley was looking to bounce back from an 87-78 loss to 2-0 Mineral Area on Friday night at Three Rivers. The Raiders briefly caught fire midway through the first half. Sophomore Willie Lucas knocked down three triples in four possessions on his way to 12 firsthalf points, propelling the hosts to a brief 32-16 lead. Wabash Valley stormed back, though. The Warriors put together an 11-3 run to end the half on a high note. The majority of the Three Rivers run came when Wabash Valley attempted to play a 2-3 zone, a defense the Raiders saw from a smaller North Lake squad Friday. When the Warriors went zone, the Raiders carved it up with crisp passing in the middle and kickouts to shooters in the corners.
Three Rivers cooled off in the second half after Wabash Valley switched back to man-to-man, finishing with a 35 percent shooting performance from both the floor and behind the arc. Lucas finished with 15 points. "When we can't get our shooters open, we struggle," Bess said. "But I still liked our effort. They're only going to get better after a game like this. We have to look at this game as a game that's going to grow us up." Wabash Valley took its first lead of the second half at 46-45 when Josh Thomas drove and converted a layup to cap a 6-0 burst. The Raiders responded with a 8-0 run of their own to retake the lead when Stocks drew a foul and put in a layup off a dribble drive against a much taller Justin Carpenter. The Warriors' size was too much to overcome, though. A 16-5 run that consisted of layup after layup and a handful of free throws put the guests in the driver's seat with a 62-58 lead with four minutes to go. The shots stopped falling for the Raiders, and they were unable to get penetrate efficiently in the paint in the second half. "I think we just stopped moving the ball in the second half really," Stocks said. "I don't know if we got tired or lost focus or whatever, but we just stopped moving the ball, and they started switching everything. We just panicked a little bit."
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic