SEDALIA, Mo. — Three Rivers wasn't ending State Fair's three-game winning streak without getting into an all-out battle.
Redshirt freshman Miganeh Jama pulled off a heroic stretch for the Raiders Friday, but so did just about everyone else. With under a minute left in double overtime, Jama caught a pass, made his defender give him an inch of space with a jab step and buried a go-ahead 3-pointer with 58 seconds left to put the Raiders ahead by three points.
After State Fair cut the lead to a point with a layup, Jama was fouled with 12 seconds left and nailed two free throws as Three Rivers went back up by three points.
"(Jama) is a good shooter," Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. "He's had a little experience, and we're trying to challenge him to guard. If he'll figure out how to guard, he'll get more playing time because he is a good shooter."
Malcolm Townsel was fouled with one second remaining, and after intentionally missing the second free throw, Tallon Fonda boxed out his man and secured the game-clinching rebound to give the Raiders a 97-95 win over State Fair.
"It was just a fabulous victory," Bess said. "You drive six, seven hours in the snow and ice, it's an all-day deal. You come out there and play a really good team and play two overtimes, it's a fabulous thing that these guys did tonight."
Three Rivers (8-9, 2-0 Region XVI) made the stops it had to make all night long. With the game tied at 86 on the final possession of overtime, Fonda slid over as a Roadrunner drove the baseline for a game-winning layup and blocked the shot off the backboard as the final seconds expired.
"That was fabulous," Bess said. "I thought they had a layup."
At the end of regulation, it was redshirt sophomore Abiodun Ayetimiyi showing off his poise on the defensive end.
After Khalil Johnson sank two free throws with 24 seconds remaining to tie the game near the end of regulation, Ayetimiyi stole the ball and passed it to Tristan Jarrett, who couldn't connect on a game-winning trey.
"You come to practice, you see (Ayetimiyi) playing hard. You get him in the game and he's playing hard. He's a little older than the rest of them and got a little more moxie, little more idea of what he needs to do, and he's a good team leader, too. He talks a lot to his teammates and encourages them, so he's a very valuable player on this team," Bess said.
Jarrett had an off night from downtown, going 2-of-17. The nation's leader in scoring average still scored 42 points to lead all scorers and tallied 11 rebounds and six assists in 49 minutes to secure his sixth double-double of the year. Friday was his second 40-point game of the season. He previously scored 44 against No. 5 John A. Logan.
"(Jarrett) is key. The other teams are going to get more and more conscious of him out there," Bess said. "They're going to make it tougher for him, and some of the other guys are going to have to pick up around him. He didn't shoot the 3 well at all tonight, but it's kind of one of those things where we're giving him a lot of freedom and we're expecting his teammates to rebound."
Of Jarrett's six assists, the nicest might have been an alley-oop pass he threw in transition to Austin Parker, who leaped up and threw it down to tie the game with 2:15 left in overtime.
Parker scored 16 points — a season-high — and pulled down nine rebounds in 35 minutes, his most minutes played this year. In the midst of a 10-0 run by the Raiders, Parker knocked down his first 3-pointer of the year in the second half as he scored six straight points during the stretch.
"(Parker) has stepped his game up," Bess said. "He was a good player in high school, and he hadn't played much up to this point, but he looked like he was right in the middle of being really good tonight. He did what he had to do."
State Fair (8-9, 0-1 Region XVI) responded to the run with an 8-0 burst to pull within a point after trailing by nine, the largest deficit of the game for either side in a matchup that featured 21 ties and 24 lead changes.
The Roadrunners took the lead on an and-one from Townsel, and in past games, Three Rivers has let leads slip away in those scenarios. This time, though, the Raiders kept their cool, and a team effort earned them a crucial road win in the first night of an in-region back-to-back.
"I just thought it was a tremendous effort out of our kids not to fold," Bess said. "We haven't been good in the last five minutes of games, and tonight we had to be good for about the last 15 minutes when you have those two overtimes. This was so exciting to win this first game."
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic