Three Rivers men’s basketball swept its first jamboree despite having to recently shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Raiders beat Evangel 51-28 in the first half and 41-37 in the second, and then beat Link Year Prep 32-14 in the first half and 39-8 in the second. Both games were Saturday at the Libla Family Sports Complex.
Three Rivers quietly started practicing in late September, getting to choose its on start date this season because of pandemic induced, one-time-only NJCAA rules as opposed to the traditional start date of Oct. 1.
But shortly after starting, a player tested positive and the team had quarantine for eight days. Heading into the scrimmage, the team had only been able to practice on 10 days. Two players on the team had to quarantine a second time and have only practiced a few times.
Three Rivers coach Brian Bess said the Raiders are probably a little behind in their fitness after having to take eight days off, but they shot the ball well.
As a team, the Raiders were 19 for 25 (76.0%) on two-pointers against Link Year Prep and 28 for 55 (50.9%) overall. Against Evangel they were 27 for 42 (64.2%) on two-pointers and 38 for 69 (55.1%) overall.
Against Evangel, which featured former Raider Chris Stocks, Sikeston’s Kevin Jones was perfect from the free-throw line late to seal the win. The Raiders were leading by two, and Jones went 4 for 4 at the line.
He finished 3 for 7 shooting for 11 points with a team-high five steals and four assists and one turnover.
Jones was slated to be one of the Raiders’ primary point guards last season, but an early wrist injury limited him to three games and he was eventually redshirted. Another redshirt player from last season, Amadou Fall, was 4 for 10 with a team-high three blocks.
Bess said Fall has been one of the Raiders’ strongest rebounders in the preseason while Jones should be a key player running the point and at the top of the defense.
Against Link Year Prep, Fall had two points, three rebounds and a block while Jones was 2 for 6 shooting for five points with two assists and a steal.
Poplar Bluff alum Dominique Hardimon was 7 for 7 shooting against Evangel with a team-high five rebounds, including three of the team’s five offensive rebounds. He also had three assists and three steals. He was 7 for 9 shooting against Link Year Prep and 2 for 3 on free throws to finish with 30 points for the jamboree.
Sophomore transfer Keith Kiner, who averaged 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds for Rend Lake last season, led the Raiders in scoring against Evangel with 15 points. He was 3 for 4 on 3-pointers and 6 for 8 overall to go with three assists and two blocks. He was also 6 for 6 with five rebounds against Link Year Prep.
“Keith Kiner is going to be big for us,” Bess said.
Shannon Strickland led the Raiders in scoring against Link Year Prep with 19 points, including 5 for 8 on 3-pointers to go with a team-high four steals, two assists and three rebounds.
Three Rivers’ next jamboree is Saturday at 9 a.m. and noon in Springfield, where it will again face Evangel and Link Year Prep. Three Rivers will have a home scrimmage against National Park College at 1 p.m. Nov. 21, which is their only other home date until their season-opener against Illinois Prep on Jan. 23
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic