After two games where the Three Rivers offense sputtered for the first 5 minutes and then found its rhythm, coach Jeff Walk emphasized that getting ahead by 20 points is a process. It isn't going to happen in one shot.
During the Three Rivers Alumni Reunion on Saturday, the Raiders followed that process in the first half before eventually beating State Fair 111-53 on at the Libla Family Sports Complex.
"We talked about that on Thursday and again on Friday. Talked about it again during today's shootaround, on how it takes a lot of possessions to get up 20," Walk said. "All we have to worry about is playing hard. Winning is an outcome of a process. If you work hard through the process, if we beat them by one or 50 it doesn't matter.
Just a great bunch of kids. They just love to play the game."
The Raider offense clicked from the jump with 10 points in the first 3 minutes, but State Fair was able to keep pace. Three Rivers couldn't put together one of those soul-crushing runs that had the other team calling for a timeout.
Three Rivers (20-5, 6-1 Region XVI) would get five straight points here, six there, State Fair would answer.
The Raiders never trailed after scoring their first basket but didn't build a double-digit lead until Chaylea Mosby scored back-to-back baskets to close the first quarter.
They were still ahead by 10 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the half. The State Fair offense continued to score at the same pace. The Roadrunners (6-18, 0-6), who have lost seven straight including six region games, had 17 points in both the first and second quarters.
But the Raider offense found another gear.
Three Rivers poured on another 29 points before the halftime buzzer, including 11 unanswered and 38 total points for the quarter, to lead 65-34 at the break.
"You could feel that rhythm changing for us. We had about three dead balls where they had to take the ball out and we couldn't get going. Once that stopped and it was a live ball, go-go-go-go, we scored a bunch," Walk said.
Mosby sank a pullup 3 and laid in a halfcourt pass from South to put the Raiders up by more than 40 with 14 minutes left in the game. It also gave Mosby 26 points up to that point after she scored 16 in the first half.
She finished with a new career-high of 31 points to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals off the bench. The Raider bench ultimately outscored the Stair Fair bench 51-19 and had a 32-3 advantage in second-chance points.
"When she's feeling it, we go to a whole new level. She can flat put the ball in the basket. And she can pass the ball, and she plays defense," Walk said. "We are just so blessed to have her."
Mosby's previous scoring high as a Raider was 21 points against Lindenwood-Belleville JV. She also had 20 points against Arkansas State Mid-South and was averaging 11.1 points heading into Saturday's game.
"I was just hitting shots. That's all I can say. I was just feeling it and I was just hitting shots," Mosby said. "I think all of our mindsets were right. We were ready to go out there and kick some butt. We all had our minds focused on the game and were ready to go."
Watson scored through a foul with 4 minutes left to give Three Rivers 100 points in a game for the seventh time this season as Three Rivers added to its lead all the way to the final buzzer.
Myia Yelder scored eight of Three Rivers' first 10 points of the night and finished with 16 for the game.
Pettus got her second start of the season and made the most of it with her third double-double, finishing with 10 points and a season-high 15 rebounds.
Thurmon had 15 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double and Little added 10 points.
Three Rivers shot 50% as a team compared to 30.5% from the Roadrunners. Laila McNeal led State Fair with 14 points off the bench. Ryann Haynes had 13 and Connor Watkins got 10.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic