Three Rivers had roughly a 10-point lead for much of the second half, but as has been a recent problem, it let Roane State make things interesting late. In a matchup of Raiders vs. Raiders, Roane State got within two points in the final possessions, but Three Rivers held on for an 89-84 win Thursday night in the Peoples Community Bank Thanksgiving Tournament at the Libla Family Sports Complex. "I was not very pleased with our overall effort after a good week of practice," Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. "There's pressure on them and I'm going to add some pressure myself because we need to get to another level and we're not there."
Out of a timeout with 3 minutes left, Kavan Hill sank a 3 for Roane State (3-6) that cut Three Rivers' lead to five points. Three Rivers, with its lead the smallest it had been all second half, worked the shot clock and eventually got the ball inside to Lydell Geffrard and he drew a foul. Geffrard, who finished 4 for 5 shooting for 11 points, made the second foul shot and Roane State got a quick basket to get within four points with 2 minutes left. Three Rivers (6-4) again tried to run the clock down but threw the ball out of bounds with 1:40 to go. Elijah Cobb made a pair of free throws to cut the margin to two points, the first time Roane State had been within one possession since the first half. Hayden Sprenkel, who finished with 10 points and four steals for Three Rivers, missed a 3 at the other end, but Geffrard grabbed the offensive rebound and Three Rivers ran a little more time off the clock.
Three Rivers passed inside to Geffrard with 7 seconds left on the shot clock and he was fouled. It was Malachi Gayle's fifth foul, and in the double bonus, Geffrard made both free throws with 51 seconds left. Jacob Naylor missed a 3 as the clock ticked under 30 seconds, but Roane State got the offensive rebound, passed it back to Naylor, and he missed a layup. Three Rivers grabbed the rebound and Sprenkel was quickly fouled with 19 seconds left. He made the first, to go ahead by five, and Roane State missed a quick attempt the other way.
Three Rivers tried to run the clock but inadvertently stepped out of bounds. Needing five points in 4 seconds, Roane State passed in at halfcourt and missed a 3 as the buzzer sounded. "We could have done better on defense, closing out on shooters and not letting them get open shots. We didn't do too well on that," said Three Rivers guard Kinyon Hodges, who had three steals and six points. "We need to guard better tomorrow night." Dominique Hardimon and Tallon Fonda each had 13 points to lead Three Rivers in scoring. Hardimon was 6 for 7 shooting while Fonda was 5 for 11. Jay Hines added 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds, including five offensive rebounds, to give Three Rivers five players in double figures. "Usually they double team the post and then the cutters are open to get the ball, and that is what is working for us," Hardimon said. "Just getting back on defense, and just really guarding the ball and not driving to the middle.
That was the gameplan tonight." Three Rivers had 40 points in the paint, led by Hardimon, Geffrard and Hines. "We think that's a big part of our game," Bess said of getting the ball inside. "Looking back, we need to get the ball inside more often." Roane State shot 41% on 3-pointers and 80% on free throws but was minus-5 on rebounds and minus-10 on turnovers. Three Rivers had 12 steals among Roane State's 20 turnovers. With four of its five starters playing more than 30 minutes, Naylor led Roane State with 23 points. Hill and Cobb each had 19 and Micah Fallin had 13. "They ran three plays and they ran them whenever they wanted, too," Bess said. Three Rivers shot 32 for 66 (48%) from the field and 7 for 25 (28%) on 3s.
After a back-and-forth start, Three Rivers was able to build a 15-point lead only to have it wiped out by a 13-point run. Three Rivers was up a point after a little more than 9 minutes of play and rattled off eight straight points in 90 seconds. Dionte Raines started the burst with a steal and a layup, and then Geffrard finished an assist from Hodges. Fonda scored, and then finished a 4-on-1 break for Three Rivers off a turnover, causing Roane State to call for a timeout. Over the next few minutes, Sprenkel made a pair of 3-pointers, Hodges grabbed a steal for a layup and Hines scored to put Three Rivers ahead 40-25 with more than 5 minutes left in the first half. But in the closing minutes, Gayle got a three-point play, Naylor and Hill both made 3s and Three Rivers had its 15-point advantage cut down to two points in less than 3 minutes. Hardimon drove and finished through a foul and his three-point play with 1:40 on the clock was Three Rivers' first points in nearly 4 minutes. After a basket by Roane State, Fonda made a 3 to set the halftime score at 46-40.
Three Rivers' lead hovered between five and 10 points until Lucas swished a 3 from the top of the key to put the Raiders ahead 13 with 12 minutes left. A few minutes later and with Three Rivers ahead by 10, Hodges poked away a steal and dunked the fastbreak. Micah Fallin and Cobb hit back-to-back 3s to cut Three Rivers' lead to eight points with under 5 minutes to play. Sprenkel swatted away a steal from Fallin and made two free throws after being fouled on the layup to put Three Rivers ahead by 10, which is about where it would stay until Roane State's late surge. Three Rivers plays Southern Arkansas Tech at 7 p.m. Friday and Northeastern Oklahoma A&M at 7 p.m. Saturday to complete its schedule in the tournament.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic