PARK HILLS, Mo. - The Raiders got within one possession early in the second half, but their momentum faded as Mineral Area got hot on 3-pointers.
Midway through the second half, the Cardinals quickly turned a four-point lead into a 17-point lead and beat Three Rivers 82-61 on Wednesday in Park Hills.
"I thought we battled. It's just they're really good," Three Rivers coach Brian Bess said. "We didn't guard the ball very good. (Point gaurd Terrion Murdix) was getting in there and kicking out to wide-open shooters."
The Raiders (10-11, 3-9 Region XVI) will face State Fair (7-13, 3-8) in the Region XVI quarterfinals on Tuesday. The Roadrunners beat MSU-West Plains 67-65 on Wednesday after a foul at the buzzer. If State Fair wins at Moberly Area on Saturday, then it will host Three Rivers. The Raiders will host if State Fair loses.
"The postseason is what matters, and all this is getting ready for the postseason," Bess said.
The winner will face top seed Mineral Area (18-0, 9-0), which will also host both semifinals and championship game on April 2 and April 3.
MSU-West Plains (13-6, 5-4) will face Moberly Area (14-7, 6-5) in the other semifinal.
The Region XVI winner for the men will face the Region IV winner for the district championship and a trip to the national tournament, whereas the women's region winner will get an automatic bid in the national tournament.
The Raiders beat State Fair by four points in their first meeting and by 13 on March 20. The Roadrunners' lone win was due to a Three Rivers forfeit.
In both games, State Fair's Kohen Thompson was unusually good from beyond the arc. Thompson was 5 for 7 (71.4%) on 3-pointers in both games against the Raiders and has shot 8 for 41 (19.5%) against everyone else.
Thompson missed 16 straight 3s across five games before getting 22 points against the Raiders on Saturday.
Dominique Hardimon is the lone Raider to score in double figures in both games. He had 13 points and seven rebounds in the first matchup and then came off the bench Saturday for 12 points and five rebounds. He was a combined 15 for 21 on free throws.
As a team, Three Rivers was 27 for 38 (71.1%) on free throws Feb. 22 and 12 for 16 (75.0%) on Saturday. State Fair shot 50% on 30 free throws in the series and is shooting 66.4% for the season.
Mandell Campbell started in his place and had eight points.
Ninkingira started in place of Harris, who is averaging 13.1 points. Ninkingira finished with 12 points, as did Kinyon Hodges.
"He's a quality player, a good shooter, and he's taking advantage of his opportunities," Bess said of Ninkingira, who got his third start of the season.
Kevin Jones led the Raiders with 16 points.
After shooting 2 for 14 in the first half, the Cardinals were 7 for 10 on 3s in the second half. Malevy Leons led the Cardinals with 26 points and seven rebounds.
"They hadn't shot it well, and then all of a sudden they made back-to-back 3s, and that was a backbreaker," Bess said.
The Raiders were down by nine with 5 minutes left in the first half.
Manu Musemena drove and drew a second foul against Campbell with a few minutes remaining in the half, and Campbell went to the bench. Musemena missed both free throws, and Kevin Jones hit a 3 to cut the lead to seven.
With 7 seconds left, Hardimon got a steal and went coast-to-coast just ahead of the halftime buzzer, and Mineral Area led 34-26 at the break.
Ninkingira opened the second half with a 3 to cut the lead to five. Hodges added a layup to get the Raiders back within one possession as part of a seven-point run
Midway through the second half, Mineral Area got two quick 3s with Leons putting Mineral Area back ahead by 10.
Shannon Strickland limped off the court with about 10 minutes remaining, going down on a play where Leons scores to put the Cardinals ahead by 14, and Leons added a corner 3 on the next possession.
Mineral Area then leaned on its lead throughout the final 10 minutes, and Three Rivers was unable to make a run.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic