Raiders drop Region XVI opener to MSU-West Plains

Raiders drop Region XVI opener to MSU-West Plains

Three Rivers kicked off its Region XVI calendar with no fans in attendance.

In a nearly empty gym with only event staff and Three Rivers cheerleaders in attendance, the Raiders scored the game's opening bucket and never led again.

MSU-West Plains led by as much as 25 and won 100-90 on Saturday at the Libla Family Sports Complex.

"A lot to learn from. A lot of video, a lot of good stuff," Three Rivers coach Brian Bess said.

The Three Rivers women's basketball team, originally scheduled to host Crowder on Saturday, will instead open its region season at home against State Fair at 3 p.m., Monday, with the Raiders to follow a 5 p.m., also against State Fair.

Fans were not allowed at Saturday's game due to concerns about ice in the parking lot. Fans will be allowed at Monday's game, weather permitting.

Lamar Wilkerson had 20 points and eight rebounds to lead Three Rivers (5-2, 0-1 Region XVI) in both categories. Shannon Strickland finished with 14 points after going 4 for 6 on 3-pointers. Keith Kiner, Brahm Harris and Kevin Jones all got 13 points.

Kiner also had five blocks, five offensive rebounds and four assists.

After committing nine turnovers against Link Year Prep in their previous game, Three Rivers had 23 against the Grizzlies. MSU-West Plains (6-2, 1-0) also had nine more steals and 32 points off turnovers to Three Rivers' 16.

"We were in a hurry. I want us to play fast, but we just looked like we were in a hurry," Bess said. "It looked like they caused some of the turnovers, but I don't think they caused them all."

Dominique Hardimon did not play after getting hurt a week prior when he was fouled on a shot and hit hard against the corner of the pad at the base of the basketball goal.

"He was in concussion protocol, and he got to do a little bit (Saturday). They think he is possible for Monday," Bess said.

MSU-West Plains point guard Jesse Zarzuela finished with 26 points on 50% shooting. He was also 6 for 11 on 3-pointers and 6 for 8 on free throws.

"We couldn't keep (Zarzuela) in front of us at all, and that's where it all started," Bess said. "They really spread us out and just drove it on us. We could never keep them in front of us."

With the Grizzlies consistently driving to the basket, they finished plus-14 on points in the paint despite the Raiders having a size advantage.

Nico Hill, who was 3 for 4 on 3s, had 18 points. James Williams got 18 points and 10 rebounds and Byron Breland added 13 points.

The Grizzlies' starters were a combined 29 for 53 (54.7%) shooting, while the bench was 6 for 19 (31.6%).

Tied at six after a few minutes of play, the Grizzlies outscored the Raiders 18-7 over the next six minutes of play to take the first double-digit lead.

Hill and Zarzuela made 3-pointers during the stretch, and Franklyn Petion capped it with a 3-point play.

The Raiders were able to get within four with 13 points in 3 minutes.

Harris started the run with a pair of 3s. Kiner and Kinyon Hodges scored, and Wilkerson added another 3 to cut the lead to 32-28 with 7 minutes on the clock.

But MSU-West Plains, in the bonus at this point while the Raiders had drawn two fouls, closed the half 7 for 9 on free throws and mixed in several more field goals. The Grizzlies would finish 19 for 30 (63.3%) on free throws, while the Raiders were 9 for 12 (75.0%).

A minute after cutting the lead to four, the Raiders were down by 10 again.

On a runout, Hodges drew contact and finished his off-balance layup for a three-point play to get the Raiders within six with under a minute to play.

Williams got a quick bucket for the Grizzlies to send them into the locker room up 50-42 at the buzzer.

Harris drove baseline for a three-point play early in the second half, but it was the Raiders' only points in the opening possessions. The Grizzlies pushed their lead to 15 and then to 25 with 5 minutes left in the game.

The Raiders got as close as 10 points in the final minute of play as they took 3s in the closing stretch. They finished 15 for 40 (37.5%), with Wilkerson and Strickland each making four and Jones going 3 for 8.

"They were better," Bess said. "We weren't ready to go, and it showed, and we weren't very good."


Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic