Three Rivers is heading into Saturday’s trip to Moberly Area with a focus on rebounding.
The Greyhounds are averaging almost 15 offensive rebounds per game and are 16th in the country in rebound margin, averaging 21 more rebounds than their opponents.
“They are just a physical, strong athletic team on the boards, and they are really well-coached,” Three Rivers coach Brian Bess said.
Moberly Area doesn’t have anyone averaging more than seven rebounds per game, but six players are getting at least four, and three are averaging more than two offensive rebounds per game.
Returning sophomores Dezi Jones and Cortez Mosley are both averaging five total rebounds. They are also the only players to start all nine of Moberly Area’s games, and 10 different Greyhounds have gotten at least one start.
Jones is leading the Greyhounds in scoring with 19.2 points per game on 42% shooting. Mosley is averaging 11.8 points, and the 6-5 forward that Bess called a mismatch is also the Greyhounds’ top free-throw shooter at 85%.
Either Dominique Hardimon, returning to the lineup after being injured against Link Year Prep on Feb. 6, or Amadou Fall could guard Mosley, depending on the Greyhounds’ lineup, Bess said.
Three Rivers point guard Kinyon Hodges will likely guard Jones.
Both the Raiders (5-2) and Moberly Area (7-2) have faced Link Year Prep, with Three Rivers winning 87-69 and Moberly Area losing 93-82.
“Link Year played really well the last 10 minutes of the game,” Bess said. “That helped us get ready for Link Year, but we didn’t get ready for West Plains very well. So we have to grow and get better.”
The Greyhounds started the season as the 21st ranked team in the country, one spot behind Mineral Area, but dropped out of the rankings after losing to Link Year Prep in late January.
Three Rivers, meanwhile, started unranked and rose to 20th last week but then lost its Region XVI opener against MSU-West Plains, and in this week’s poll, both the Raiders and Greyhounds are unranked but receiving votes.
“We didn’t take care of the ball very well, and we didn’t get after them on defense,” Bess said of the loss to MSU-West Plains. “We’ve had better practices (this week), so hopefully, we’ll be better.”
Three Rivers’ Lamar Wilkerson enters Saturday’s game as the leading scorer in Division I at 25.6 points, just 0.2 points ahead of MSU-West Plains’ Jesse Zarzuela.
Wilkerson has been the Raiders’ top 3-point shooter through seven games, making 4.1 per game and shooting 47.5% from beyond the arc.
Hardimon and Brahm Harris are both averaging 14 points, and Hardimon leads the Raiders with 7.5 rebounds per game, including 3.2 offensive rebounds.
The Three Rivers sophomores will get their first shot at revenge Saturday after losing to Moberly Area (5-1) in the Region XVI championship nearly a year ago.
"The girls are ready to play again," Three Rivers coach Alex Wiggs said. "It's a little added bonus that it's against somebody of the caliber of Moberly. There's a lot of respect between the programs, but there's also the competitiveness."
Sophomores B’Aunce Carte and Bryce Dowell lead Moberly Area in scoring with 14.3 and 14.2 points, respectively.
Ambranette Storr is scoring 13.2 points, primarily off the bench, and Kayla Langley is scoring 10.3.
Carter is also leading the Greyhounds in rebounding with 7.7 per game, including 4.0 offensive rebounds.
Carter came off the bench in the region championship and scored 14 points on 6 for 8 shooting with five rebounds and three offensive rebounds in 17 minutes.
"The biggest thing is to match her physicality. - She's a very, very good player. She rebounds the ball very well, is physical around the rim, and a good finisher around the basket," Wiggs said. "We can't let her, and them, be the first ones to throw the punch so to speak."
Through six games, the 11th ranked Greyhounds are top 10 in the country in opponents’ 3-point percentage (21.7%), turnovers per game (9.3), points per game (83.7) and field goal attempts per game (78.3).
The 21st ranked Raiders (4-0), who haven’t played since Feb. 3 because of weather-related cancellations, lead the country in points per game (98.5), field goals made per game (36.8) and steals per game (22.3).
"It doesn't really matter if we played the toughest schedule in the world before that. After two and a half weeks off, you have to make sure you're prepared mentally," Wiggs said.
They’re also second in field goal attempts per game (83.5) and are in the top 10 in eight other categories after winning their first four games by an average of 51 points.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic