CARTERVILLE, Ill. — The Lady Raiders' wins continue to come in blowout fashion. Hailee Erickson scored a season-best 25 points and freshman Deanay Watson added 20 more and a team-leading four steals as Three Rivers was in the zone en route to a 93-74 victory at John A. Logan. All five of the Lady Raiders' wins have come by 20 or more points. "Those kids are starting to come into their own a little bit," coach Jeff Walk said. "With Hailee being the only kid back, there's a lot of pressure on her, you know, being the only one back. She's starting to get where she can handle that better." The 1-3-1 zone and the full-court press from the Lady Raiders gave the Lady Volunteers fits throughout the day, forcing 25 turnovers that led to easy points in transition. It was a day where nearly everything went right for Three Rivers.
The Lady Raiders (5-2) entered the game struggling from the free-throw line at 56 percent for the season, but they shot just under 85 percent (11 of 13) Saturday, hitting their first 11 from the line. "We've been running a lot (in practice, getting that heart rate up before we shoot so we can get used to it," Walk said. "As hard as we play, we've gotta simulate that. Heart pounding out of your chest and then going to the free-throw line and making free throws. That's just going to be a continual thing. "There are a lot of things we put in early, and that was one of the things we didn't put in early enough. It's helping, and when the kids are seeing that it's helping, it's easier for them to buy in and just keep doing it." Three Rivers broke the game open with a 10-0 run late in the second quarter to take a 19-point lead as the half was winding down. Freshman Lana Reed scored a bucket on a pass from freshman Hannah Thurmon. Reed made it five straight points when she drew contact on a layup for an and 1. On the next possession, Three Rivers gave itself three chances to score a basket by crashing the offensive glass, and the persistence paid off when freshman Jordan Little fed Thurmon for an open 3-pointer. Little added a 3 of her own shortly after to complete the run and give the Raiders a firm grasp on the game. Three Rivers took control of the game within the first few minutes and never looked back. After sophomore guard Lyric Campbell nailed a corner 3 to open the scoring on the opening possession, the Lady Raiders scored the next nine points and never trailed again. "It's an analogy, getting off the bus and firing on all cylinders early," Walk said. "They hit that 3 and then we came back and scored the next nine points, coming out mentally focused and setting the tone." Watson started her day with an easy layup for Three Rivers' fi rst two points after being left alone near the basket. She then knocked down two free throws after the defense forced a steal and she was fouled on the other end. Thurmon knocked down a 3-pointer off a pass from Little to get her day started. She ended up with a seasonhigh 19 points on a 7 of 15 performance from the fi eld. "If you've got a three or a four-headed monster that can stand out there and knock down 3s like we have, that just makes you harder to guard. Hannah is a guard in a 6-foot, 2-inch body, so there's always going to be mismatches." Watson added another early steal and score with an open-court layup in transition. Both teams traded baskets until the Three Rivers lead stood at 20-13 late in the first quarter. An 11-4 run for the Lady Raiders carried over into the second quarter to put the lead at 31-17. Three Rivers pulled down two of its 16 offensive rebounds, and freshman J'Kayla Fowler scored on a putback to start the run. Thurmon scored two more after Fowler found her uncovered inside. With the Lady Raiders in the bonus late in the first quarter, Thurmon knocked down a pair of free-throws with 1:18 to go in the quarter. Reed got involved in the scoring with an easy fi nish off a pass from Kimberley Shaw, and a block at the other end from Thurmon resulted in two easy points in transition for Watson. At the start of the second quarter, Thurmon had the ball inside and dished to Erickson, who knocked down one of her five triples to complete the run. John A. Logan (3-3) briefly cut the Three Rivers lead to single digits after sophomore Johnecia Kyles scored an easy bucket in transition after stealing the ball. The Lady Raiders led by as many as 29 in the second half, trailing just once on the fi rst possession. Three Rivers kept its lead steady throughout the second half, never feeling any pressure from the Lady Volunteers as the visitors cruised to the finish line. The Lady Raiders will finish up their three-game road trip with a trip to Arkansas Baptist College for a 5:30 tip Tuesday.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic