PARK HILLS, Mo. - Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk thought a high-scoring game would favor the Lady Raiders.
It took a while for that to play out, but the Lady Raiders scored 36 points in the third quarter to retake the lead and held on to beat Mineral Area 96-92 on Saturday in Park Hills.
When these two teams played in the Region XVI Showdown there were 26 ties and 15 lead changes. The biggest lead for either team was seven points and Mineral Area needed a late free throw to win 61-60.
The low-scoring contest didn't favor the Raiders, who entered Saturday's rematch second in the country in points per game (88.3).
"That's how those high-scoring games go. It just takes a while to take effect on the fatigue of the other team," Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk said.
The Lady Raiders' depth ended up being key with 45 points off the bench to Mineral Area's 23. The only Raider to play 30 minutes was Jordan Little, who led the team with 21 points. Four Cardinal starters played 30 minutes with Masyn McWilliams, who had 19 points in the first half and 28 in the game, and Keanna Williams playing more than 36 minutes.
"I'll put our bench up against anybody in the region. Matter of fact, against a lot of teams in the country. Forty-five points off the bench, you better have 10-15 kids who can play," Walk said.
The Cardinals were the only team to go undefeated in the inaugural Region XVI Showdown, making them the proverbial "team to beat" entering the region season.
"I guess we were kind of underestimated because we were 3-2 in the (Showdown). We tried to come out hard and prove we came to win (the region) again this year," Little said.
Added Yelder, "We wanted it more."
There was only one lead change after the first quarter.
Little made a 3 to tie the game at 50 early in the third but then Mineral Area went on a 10-2 spurt that McWilliams capped with a 3 from 27-feet to give her 24 points to that point
"We weren't guarding and moving our feet. We were kind of stuck in the sand," Little said. "And communicating. We had to know who she was guarding to know who had to guard her in check."
Following a halftime discussion concerning McWilliams, the Lady Raiders held her scoreless over the next rest of the quarter and tied the game at 66 after Mosby sank a 3 and South got a quick steal and layup. Soon after, Yelder made a corner 3 with under 2 minutes left in the third quarter for the Raiders' first lead since the first quarter.
Immediately after a timeout, Yelder added another 3 to put the Lady Raiders ahead by six.
"When we went on the run I think that just gave us a lot of momentum and we just kept going," Yelder said.
The Cardinals (11-5, 0-1Region XVI) followed with a 3 and Autumn Dodd swished yet another 3. After 16 combined points in the final 97 seconds, Three Rivers went into the fourth quarter with a six-point lead. The Raiders finished with 36 points in the quarter to more than flip the halftime deficit.
"That's the difference in that game. And in the fourth quarter, we still put a lot of pressure on them and we were able to dictate tempo on both sides of the basketball," Walk said.
Little pushed it to nine points with a 3 and the Lady Raiders (13-4, 1-0) followed that by forcing a five-second violation on the attempted inbound.
As the clock ticked past two minutes, Mineral Area got a steal and a block for four points at the other end, cutting the Lady Raiders' lead to two points.
Thurmon scored under the basket, the Lady Raiders got a stop, and with a four-point lead, they burned the shot clock to 10 seconds before Yelder drove for a layup.
The Cardinals got a quick basket and tried for a steal or a 10-second violation, but the Lady Raiders got across halfcourt and Mineral Area, down by four with 10 seconds left and two fouls to give, opted to let the clock run out than try to get Three Rivers to the free-throw line.
After five lead changes and three ties to open the game, Mineral Area went on a 10-point.
The biggest lead through the first 8 minutes of the fast-paced, back-and-forth game was a measly two points.
Near the end of the first quarter with the Cardinals ahead by a point, (40) scored and (35) made a 3 on Mineral Area's last possession of the quarter.
Mineral Area opened the second quarter with another 3, then (5) got a putback that put the Cardinals ahead by 11. The biggest lead for either team the first time these two played in November was seven points.
The Lady Raiders called a timeout and steadily erased the run throughout the second quarter.
Katelyn South had seven points in the second quarter, including a 3, and it was her two free throws the brought the Lady Raiders back within a point.
The Cardinals scored, and then Chaylea Mosby started stumbling as she drove to the basket, but stayed on her feet just long enough to kick out to Jordan Little, who made the game-tying 3 with a minute left in the half.
Mineral Area, though, answered with a quick 3 at the other end and added a pair of free throws to lead by five at the break.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic