Three Rivers women’s basketball has won at least 20 games four years in a row. That’s going to be pretty hard to accomplish this season, regardless of how good the roster may be. Under the new NJCAA restrictions due to COVID19, which were announced last week, men’s and women’s basketball teams are restricted to 22 games. On top of that, Region XVI women’s teams voted to expand the region schedule from 10 to 15 games this season, with State Fair, Jefferson and Crowder playing twice at the Libla Family Sports Complex. “That is going to be the interesting part,” said coach Alex Wiggs, entering his fifth year with the team and first as head coach. “Just because you’re around .500 this year, may not necessarily mean that you’re a bad team or that you struggled.
It just depends on how that schedule is made and what teams you have to play. “As good as this region is, and with all the changes in the region, you don’t really know what each other is going to do.” Add in a conference matchup against St. Louis Community College, and Wiggs has six potential games. He said Friday that 20 of those 22 potential games had been scheduled, but even that is an ever-evolving situation during the pandemic. At the moment, for instance, teams from Tennessee are not allowed to travel out of state. Who knows what restrictions may or may not be in place when games are allowed to start in January.
“There’s going to be obstacles throughout the (year). The team that stays focused on the goal at hand, the team that doesn’t let the outside things that you can’t control affect you, that’s the team in this region that is going to have the most success at the end of the day,” Wiggs said. “The one thing I can say that we’ve been very consistent over the past four years is, the girls love to compete. They love to play hard.”
A hallmark of Three Rivers’ teams with Wiggs as an assistant coach, then co-head coach the past two years, and hopefully going forward as a head coach, is a deep bench. “I think they have bought into what it takes to be successful on the court and off the court. They’ve bought into doing things the right way, and they’ve discovered that winning is fun,” Wiggs said. The support and recognition they’ve received makes all that work (worth it).”
Chaylea Mosby didn’t start a game last year but averaged 11.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.2 steals a game en route to an All-Region XVI selection. Returning sophomores Jamiyah Thomas and Autumn Dodd also didn’t start a game, like Mosby, but still averaged at least five points a game while the team leader was redshirt sophomore Deanay Watson at 13.6 points. “Whenever you can bring in an An’Nyah Pettus, Chaylea Mosby, Jamiah Thomas and Autumn Dodd off the bench, that’s pretty good,” Wiggs said. “It doesn’t matter where you are in the rotation.
The expectations are still the same. Nothing in that situation is going to change, so that makes sure they’re prepared for that opportunity or situation if it arrises.” Having that depth will be especially valuable should a player test positive for coronavirus. Between the illness, potential exposures and quarantine guidelines, it’s possible for the size of the available roster to be significantly reduced at any moment. Wiggs said he always has that talk with college kids about needing to make smart decisions because your actions not only affect you but your teammates. This year, it will include reminding them to be safe in public and be mindful of where you’re going and what you’re doing.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic