The Lady Raiders put together one of the more complete performances you'll see on a basketball court Friday night. Three Rivers forced 36 turnovers — one shy of its season-high — and allowed a season-low of 57 points against Rend Lake in a 92-57 thumping Friday night at the Bess Activity Center. The hosts turned in a season-high 43 points off turnovers, allowing just six from the Lady Warriors. "When it's clicking like it was in that first half, that was pretty good," coach Jeff Walk said. "We had some moments in the second half that were a little off, but man, there were six, seven possessions in a row that looked pretty good. So, if we can string about 30 in a row, it can be pretty awesome." After a relatively close first quarter, Three Rivers (3-1) commenced an annihilation in the second. A massive 25-8 run started in the second quarter when freshman Hannah Thurmon knocked down a jumper 24 seconds into the quarter and followed up with a layup off the dribble after the Lady Raiders forced one of the many Rend Lake turnovers. Sophomore Hailee Erickson capped the run with one of her five 3-pointers on the way to her team-high 21 points. Three Rivers led by 21 at halftime and shot 75 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes. Rend Lake teased a run in the third after freshman Kelsey Krutsinger began what would be a white-hot second half, but the visitors never cut the deficit below 17 points. Krutsinger was the catalyst for much of the Rend Lake offense in the second half. The Flora, Illinois, native scored 20 of her gamehigh 26 points in the second half, 15 of which came in the third quarter. One player wasn't going to beat Three Rivers on a night as well-executed as Friday, though. Three Rivers closed the game on a 12-0 run to earn a 35-point victory. The Lady Raiders were without redshirt sophomore Casey Douglas, who was out with a foot injury but is expected to get her cast removed next week. "She gets a lot of rebounds per game, and that kind of forces one of the guards to have to go in there and rebound a little bit more than we're used to," freshman Katelyn South said. "And she gets a lot of fast breaks and steals with her quickness, so that makes us have to get up and pressure them even more." When a game is going as well as it was for the Lady Raiders last night, there aren't many other places a team would rather be than a basketball court. The players were smiling and laughing throughout most of the night, enjoying a free-flowing game in which tenacious defense led to scoring that resembled pregame drills in a layup line on the way to a 57-percent shooting night from the floor. "We were a little more patient on offense. We were getting it reversed and getting those skip passes open with the way we were making them match up, and we have some kids that as long as we get our feet set and get a good pass, can shoot it as well as anybody in the area," Walk said. In the second half, freshman Jordan Little dove on the court for a loose ball and was laughing and cracking a smile while in the midst of a fight for the ball. It was that kind of night for Three Rivers. "Even if it was a close game, we'd still be the same," Erickson said. "We'd still be laughing and smiling because this is what we want to do. We're one of the lucky ones to be able to keep playing here and playing together. It makes it fun." Five players finished in double figures, four of which were freshmen, and everyone who saw the floor tallied at least one assist on a night when the team finished with 28 assists, an impressive number for a young group that features eight freshmen. "I think we'll get better," Walk said. "They're starting to figure out where everybody's going to be in certain spots and certain locations. That's just going to get better as time goes on and they play more games with each other." Freshman Deanay Watson turned in her second double double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds. South and freshman J'Kayla Fowler each scored 15, and Little added 12. Erickson, freshman Lana Reed and Fowler each had five steals to lead the game. The team totaled 26 steals. Free-throw shooting had been the team's biggest issue coming in, but the Lady Raiders executed so well and got so many easy points in transition that they only went to the charity stripe nine times, making five.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic