The Three Rivers women's basketball team won its first four games by an average of 37 points. It faced its first tough test of the season Saturday in No. 14 Wabash Valley College (Ill.) and lost 88- 83 at the Bess Activity Center. "We are going to get better. I think the freshmen learned what a Region XVI contest is going to be like on the road," said Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk, who has started four freshmen in each of Three Rivers' first five games. "They learned how they are going to have to compete every possession and make plays every possession. I think if you take out those 6-7 possessions at the start of the fourth, the game turns out totally different." Three Rivers led Wabash Valley (3-0) by two after the third quarter, but the Warriors opened the fourth with a 17-4 run. "We came down and started making some one-pass shots, not working the ball like we were at the end of the third quarter," Walk said. "It's hard to win ballgames like that. You're not ready to rebound on the offensive side of things." Down by 10 with 1:20 left in the game, Alex Kohler dribbled up and sank a 3 for the Lady Raiders. Three Rivers fouled and Wabash Valley missed both free throws, but got two offensive rebounds and called a timeout. The LadyRaiders fouled again and again Wabash Valley missed both free throws. With under 50 seconds to play, Kohler, who had 18 points off the bench, drove and drew a foul. Her free throws made it a five-point game. Three Rivers didn't get any closer as the Warriors, who shot 59 percent on free throws, made just enough to keep pace with Three Rivers' field goals.
Three Rivers was still down five with the ball and 8.4 seconds left following a technical, but Kohler's off-balance 3 missed and Wabash Valley held the rebound until the final buzzer. It was the first time the freshmen heavy squad had to extend a game with fouls this season. "Coachable bunch of kids," Walk said. "We put our fullcourt 1-2-1-1 and we moved people all over the place who had never played that and they handled it. It goes back to that high (basketball) IQ. Games like this you have to have those kinds of kids so you can change some things up that maybe they aren't ready for." Kohler was 4 for 10 shooting, all 3s, and 6 for 6 on free throws. She leads the team in scoring so far at 12.8 points per game despite never starting. The sophomore had a season-high 19 points in Three Rivers' season-opening 103-41 win. Lakeita Chappel added 15 points and DeNayia Holmes had 13 points, six rebounds, seven assists and four steals in an all-around game from the Raiders' third-year point guard. Wabash Valley, which has a pair of 6-foot, 4-inch players and six who are 5-11 or taller, dominated the boards. It out-rebounded the Raiders 32-13 in the first half and 51-21 overall. The Warriors were plus 7 on second-chance points. "These last few practices we've been working on blocking out. I just feel like we're used to having the height on teams," Holmes said. "The last few teams we were able to just grab it. This team, we had to block out and not send as many back. Usually we send our guards running down the floor, this game we needed our guards to go in and help the post. As long as they pushed the post out, then we were able to get our guards in there to rebound." Three Rivers, which entered the game ranked in the top 10 in the nation in steals and blocks per game, forced 22 turnovers and was plus- 19 in points off turnovers. Wabash Valley had five players score in double figures, led by DeAsia Outlaw with 22 points. The Warriors scored the first nine points of the game, but Three Rivers quickly found its composure and tied it up for the first time at 14. "I feel like we adjusted and handled it accordingly. It being our first time, I feel like we was pretty good. We kept the effort, we didn't let nothing keep us down. We kept pushing through all the adversity," Holmes said. The Lady Raiders took their first lead late in the first quarter after Kohler sank a 3, and there would be 12 total lead changes and seven ties before Wabash Valley went ahead for good at the start of the fourth quarter.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic