PARK HILLS, Mo. — The second half of the third quarter featured a swearing coach, forwards who almost literally fought over a rebound, two three-point plays, a corner 3 that beat the shot clock, and a layup that barely didn't beat the end-of-quarter buzzer. Three Rivers came out on the better end of a wild few minutes and went on to beat Mineral Area 76-57 on Saturday in Park Hills in the Region XVI opener for both teams. "In Memphis we drew a box around the basket, 'win the war here,' rebounding and scoring. The past two weeks, we've been making a pretty good concerted effort about winning that war beneath the basket," Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk said. With 3:39 left in the third quarter, Three Rivers' Lakeita Chappel drove and scored through a blocking foul by Holly Forbes, who picked up her fourth and went to the bench. Thirty seconds later, Mineral Area coach Gary Koch picked up a technical foul for profanity. Thirty seconds later, Mineral Area's Tyeshia Mitchell and Three Rivers' Markeia Porter had to be separated after things got heated while going for a rebound.
After a lengthy conversation, the refs issued a technical to Mitchell, but not to Porter or anyone from Three Rivers, which also got possession because of the jump ball call. Sorted out, Three Rivers (13-5, 1-0 Region XVI) was up by 11 after the free throws, and Mitchell had four fouls and went to the bench. She later fouled out with more than seven minutes left in the game and finished with five points after entering Saturday averaging 10. Porter, who got 11 points, added insult to foul trouble with a three-point play that put the Lady Raiders ahead by 14, which is where the lead stayed until the start of the fourth quarter. "We came out of there with our heads composed. We didn't do anything silly after all the stuff going on on the floor, so that showed some character of the kids we have," Walk said. "I told them 'We're going to play basketball; we're not going to get in a wrastlin' match." Mineral Area (10-4, 0-1 Region XVI), pressing and shooting 3s, got back within 10 points with more than four minutes remaining, but Three Rivers countered and Hailee Erickson's 3 in transition put the Lady Raiders back up by 15. Alex Kohler's drive and layin made the lead 20 points with two minutes left. "This group is a little different from the rest of them in the past. Their heartbeat is pretty flat. We got up, made some big shots and they got excited, but they still stayed up there defensively and played with that type of intensity and effort," Walk said. The Raiders had five players in double figures after Walk opted for line change subs throughout and gave everybody at least 12 minutes of playing time. "We're in pretty good shape now and that is going to have an adverse effect on everybody else. I think our second five is as good as what anybody else's is," Walk said. Chappel led the team with 15 points. Erickson had 13, Sydni Williams and Kohler both had 12 and Porter chipped in 11. Williams also had 11 rebounds for her fifth double double of the season and second in a row. Greenville alumna Makenzy Smith finished with eight points and five rebounds for Mineral Area. The sophomore has started nine of 14 games this season and was averaging seven points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists entering the weekend. Smith has played well since the Christmas break with double-digit scoring in three of four games. She posted a season-high 18 points on 7 for 10 shooting against Northwest Mississippi on Jan. 2, which was Mineral Area's final game before starting Region XVI play. Ella Gobald led Mineral Area with 11 points and was the only Lady Cardinal in double figures. The Lady Raiders, who led wire-to-wire, took their first double-digit lead against Mineral Area in the middle of the second quarter after going on a 12-2 run. "We really sat down and guarded and kept them from doing what they wanted to do," Walk said. "The really big difference between this game and the game in Memphis, is we were able to run an offense and execute that offense when it was difficult." After leading throughout the early going, but by single digits, the Lady Raiders were ahead by five with six minutes remaining when Kohler sank a 3. The press defense came up with a steal, and Kohler found Porter with a no-look pass underneath the hoop for an easy bucket that also gave Three Rivers a double digit lead. Porter and Williams each added two free throws and Kahliya Murry hit a 3 to give Three Rivers a 15 point lead, the biggest of the first half.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic