Raiders beat Grizzlies after forcing air ball late

Raiders beat Grizzlies after forcing air ball late

MSU-West Plains had a chance at a buzzer-beating 3 to force overtime. It didn't go so well.

The Grizzlies' top two 3-point shooters worked together at the top of the key with 10 seconds left.

Taevon Horton inbounded to the Grizzlies' leading scorer, Sardaar Calhoun, who is making 44% of his 3-pointers and is signed with Florida State.

But Tallon Fonda was guarding him and Calhoun passed back to Horton.

But Dionte Raines was guarding him.

Horton pulled up from 25 feet with Raines tight to him and air balled his chance to force overtime.

"I just had to faceguard him," Fonda said of Calhoun. "I wasn't really worried about anybody else shooting the ball. They didn't really have any really good shooters. I knew he was going to be the one to get the ball last, but he passed and the other dude threw up some junk."

With under 3 seconds left, Three Rivers inbounded the ball and added a free throw to win 88-84 on Saturday at the Libla Family Sports Complex.

"I had a lot of pressure built up and when I saw that airball, it went all out," said Fonda, who scored 15 points off the bench.

Added Three Rivers coach Gene Bess, "Our kids were pretty resilient. They made a lot of mistakes and they kept fighting back. They learned from this one."

Dominique Hardimon led the Raiders with 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting to go with four rebounds after playing 20 minutes off the bench. It was a season-high for the Poplar Bluff alum, who was injured during the Three Rivers' Thanksgiving tournament and did not play Three Rivers' previous game last Saturday against Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.

Lydell Geffrard earned his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds. The Three Rivers center is averaging 9.8 points and 6.7 rebounds this season.

"Really a tough kid. He understands the game, been raised right," Bess said of Hardimon. "(Geffrard's) such a threat under the basket. They were really gearing to try to stop him. That's how people have been beating us, they won't let us get the ball to Lydell. We need somebody else to pick up the slack when he gets in foul trouble or when we can't get the ball to him."

Three Rivers scored 60 of its 88 points in the paint while the Grizzlies attempted 28 3-pointers and had 26 points in the paint.

Momentum shifted in Three Rivers' favor with about 8 minutes left in the first half, Kinyon Hodges had the ball on the left side, drove to the basket, held the ball high in his right hand and threw down a one-handed slam, posterizing an MSU-West Plains defender in the process.

"Once I crossed halfcourt I saw the open lane. In my mindset, I was already thinking 'dunk it.' So I just went up and dunked it," Hodges said.

The Grizzlies (6-8) hit a 3 at the other end, cutting the six-point lead in half, but it was the last field goal they would get for nearly 5 minutes.

Brahm Harris, who had 13 points, and Austin Parker scored a pair of layups that kickstarted a 13-2 run by the Raiders (8-5). The Grizzlies' only points were a pair of 1 for 2 trips to the foul line.

With under 3 minutes left in the half, Quentin Jones scored for the Grizzlies' first field goal since the 3 following Hodges' dunk.

The Raiders, now up by 12, led by at least six the rest of the half and went into the locker room ahead 44-36.

West Plains cut the lead to two points with 12 1/2 minutes left in the game after stealing an inbound pass for an easy bucket.

Three Rivers, which lost to the Grizzlies four times last year, including in the Region XVI semifinals, kept a one or two possession lead for the next 10 minutes.

"We battled really good. They hit some big 'ol 3s to get back in the game. Then they missed a couple and when they did we got the rebound. This has still got to be our motivation. We've got to rebound until we can get good shooting on offense," Bess said. "West Plains is a talented team, well coached. They beat us four times last year. They are not afraid of us and we're not afraid of them. The next two times we play them will be for region honors and we are going to have to learn from this one."

Geffrard made back-to-back baskets that put the Raiders ahead by seven with 2 1/2 minutes to play.

The Raiders got another stop as the clock ticked past 2 minutes, then ran 20 seconds off the shot clock before committing a turnover.

Zavien Smith drew a shooting foul for the Grizzlies and he made both with 1:16 remaining.

Three Rivers missed a pair of shots at the other end and Calhoun got a quick layup, making it a three-point game with 40 seconds left.

With the shot clock under five seconds, Hodges attempted a jumper from 10 feet that missed. The Grizzlies brought the ball past halfcourt and called a timeout with 10 seconds left, hoping either Calhoun or Hodges would make a 3.

But Fonda and Raines got in the way.


Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic