Gene Bess may have picked up career win No. 1,299 with a phone call Wednesday night. The Three Rivers College men's basketball coach was informed by the Raiders next opponent, Arkansas Baptist College, that the team will not be making the trip to Poplar Bluff for the scheduled game tonight at the Libla Family Sports Complex. "We were looking forward to it," Bess said. "It was going to be a challenge. It was going to be good for our players. We'll have to try to find other ways to get them better." The Raiders won 92-89 in overtime on Jan. 21 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Bess said he was informed Wednesday night by an Arkansas Baptist coach that the school "wouldn't let them come" and that they would have to forfeit the rest of their games.
Nothing official was released or posted on social media by Arkansas Baptist. In his 50th season, Bess said the situation is "very rare." Only one other time has a team forfeited a game before playing the Raiders. It happened during the 2013-14 season and was also the second to last regular-season game for Three Rivers. That game was later declared a forfeit by the NJCAA. If that is again the case, Bess can reach another milestone win Saturday in the team's final home game of the season.
Three Rivers hosts West Kentucky CTC at 7 p.m. Saturday. "It doesn't matter to me," Bess said of earning a win by forfeit. "That's not as important to me as getting ready for next week." Next week, the Raiders will be the No. 3 seed in the Region XVI Tournament and play either Mineral Area or Moberly Area in the semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, at Lincoln University in Jefferson City. Bess now has a career record of 1,299-415. Two of those wins actually losses that opponents had to later forfeit. The last occurred during the 2013-14 season while Mineral Area had to forfeit a win in the 2006-07 season. During the 2017-18 season, Three Rivers had to forfeit three wins due to an ineligible player that dropped below an hours requirement.
Brian Rosener - Daily American Republic