The Three Rivers men's basketball team was in the midst of a five-minute scoring drought in the second half when Wabash Valley sank its first 3-point shot of the night.
The Raiders' 18-point lead was down to five.
"It's real easy to settle down if you have a good first half," Three Rivers sophomore Jay Hines said. "But later on in the half we just picked up hard, starting moving the ball and started playing harder."
Three Rivers put together a 20-8 run over the next eight minutes to regain control and beat the Warriors 83-65 Saturday in the First Midwest Bank Classic at the Libla Family Sports Complex.
The Warriors (0-2) missed their first 15 shots from 3-point range and finished 2 for 21.
"We tell them try to make the 3-point shooter shoot something other than a 3-point shot," Raiders coach Gene Bess said. "Maybe we did that better than I thought."
The Raiders held an opponent to under 40% shooting for a second straight night, holding both under 66 points.
"We just close down, do what Coach Gene tells us, close out on hot hands make things uncomfortable," Harris said.
The Warriors outscored Three Rivers by 20 in the paint and got 15 second-chance points, finishing with a plus-11 advantage rebounding.
"They were a really good rebounding team," Harris said. "Coach Gene (Bess) put a lot of emphasis on rebounding since our first tournament in Dallas. Ever since then we do rebounding probably 30 minutes a day.
"Coach puts a lot of emphasis on it."
Last year the Raiders ranked 165th in rebound margin per game.
"There's going to be a lot of times when it seems like a mismatch but we got to get low, push those big guys out, we can still grab the board," Hines said.
Marcus Garrett, a 6-foot-1 guard, led Wabash Valley with 22 points and 10 rebounds while 6-9 Amir Yusuf added 13 points and nine rebounds.
Bobby Harvey's 3-pointer at the 13:26 mark of the second half was the first for the Warriors and cut the Raiders' lead to 46-41.
Three Rivers was stuck on 46 points for five minutes at that point and went nearly seven minutes between field goals.
"It makes us uncomfortable over there on the bench," Bess said.
Hardimon ended the drought with a free throw but the Warriors missed two chances to get closer and Kevin Jones sank a jumper off an inbound pass. Tallon Fonda later got a fastbreak layin and Lydell Geffrard stole a lob pass leading to another basket by Jones and a 53-41 lead.
"Just stay focused and locked in, make it like the score is 0-0, stay humble," Harris said of what it took to get back on track.
The Warriors made a late run to get within 11 on their only other 3-pointer but Harris banked in a 3 and Willie Lucas followed with another.
Wabash Valley scored the first seven points of the game and kept Three Rivers scoreless until Hardimon got a runner to fall 2 1/2 minutes after tipoff.
Harris got a putback and Hodges scored after a steal to make it a 1-point game, but the Raiders went the next three minutes without scoring. They only trailed 11-6 as Wabash Valley also started a scoring drought that went four minutes.
Lucas tied the game at 11-all on a 3-pointer at the 12:47 mark and Hodges got a steal, finding Hardimon for a fastbreak layin. Hodges later capped a 10-0 run with a fastbreak layin for a 16-11 advantage.
"I thought he had some great moments," Bess said of Hodges. "When your point guard is very good your transition game has a chance to be good."
The Warriors missed a chance at a three-point play at the midway mark of the first half and were still down three a minute later when the Raiders started to pull away.
Harris knocked down a 3 after the Warriors missed one on the other end. Parker scored off a pass from Harris, Hines split two at the line after being fouled rebounding at the other end and Hayden Sprenkel knocked down a 3 from the top of the key for a 31-17 lead with 5 minutes left.
The Raiders scored 11 straight as Wabash Valley missed a trio of 3-point shots. The Warriors missed all 14 long-range attempts in the first half.
Last year in a 94-83 loss at Wabash Valley, the Raiders gave up 14 3-pointers including four by Garrett who scored 24.
Garrett was named to the all-tournament team along with Hines and Harris, Mineral Area's Angelo Stuart and Kevin Legardy and Link Year Prep's Cametre Chambers.
"We've got to gear up, play hard and get better," said Bess who picked up win No. 1,283.
Three Rivers will face a pair of ranked opponents in the span of six days.
First, the Raiders travel to Sedalia, Missouri to play sixth-ranked Indian Hills (Iowa) at State Fair at 6 p.m. Friday. Three Rivers plays at 1 p.m. Saturday against Southeastern (Iowa), which was 22-9 last year.
The Raiders then play at fourth-ranked John A. Logan (Ill.) on Nov. 13. Indian Hills beat Logan 72-63 on Saturday.
Brian Rosener - Daily American Republic