The more the Three Rivers women's basketball team played in the season opener, the better they got.
The 19th-ranked Raiders increased their scoring each quarter Saturday afternoon in beating Olney Central (Ill.) 101-67 in the Lady Raiders Classic at the Libla Family Sports Complex.
"I think that it was just the nerves in the beginning and then the second (half) it just all flowed together," Three Rivers sophomore Katelyn South said.
Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk agreed.
"Every freshman has jitters in a certain way, sophomores have jitters of another way and you just got to work through that," Walk said.
South scored 20 points, one of eight players that chipped in eight or more points. Deanay Watson added 14 points, Jordan Little had 13 points and a team-high eight rebounds while Myia Yelder and Hannah Thurmon each added 10 points.
South knocked down 7 of 8 shots from the field, including all three of her 3-point attempts as the Raiders were a combined 11 of 18 from behind the arc.
"Our shots just started falling," South said. "It seemed like the rim was just getting bigger and bigger every time you throw a shot up. We were passing the ball more. We started getting steals on defense and it all just worked together."
The Raiders led by as much as 16 in the second quarter but the Knights put together a 12-5 run to get within single digits. Macy Robbins knocked down a 3-pointer after a head fake got her defender in the air that cut Central's deficit to 38-29 with 1:35 left in the half.
After the Raiders split two foul shots, they were 5 for 16 at the line in the first half, Central threw the ball away. Hollis scored off a drive-and-kick by Little.
The Knights were within 10 when Kalyssa Hollis split two at the line but Pettus came away with the miss and Thurmon knocked down a 3 from straightaway for a 44-31 halftime lead.
Thurmon opened the scoring in the second half with a 3-pointer as the Raiders scored the first seven points to push their lead to 20.
"We have the ability to have spurt-ability," Walk said.
Three Rivers never trailed after scoring the first four points and kept Central off the scoreboard for the opening 2 1/2 minutes. Little knocked down the first 3-pointer of the season for a 7-2 lead but the Knights scored in transition for a second time.
Central, however, went the next 3 1/2 minutes without scoring but only trailed 12-6 as Three Rivers missed eight foul shots.
The Raiders finished 14 of 31 at the foul line.
"There's no way to practice the game free throw, other than doing it in the game," Walk said. "You can do everything you can do in practice but it's still not the same as actual game time.
"As the year goes on, that will get better."
The Knights turned the ball over 26 times and shot 35.8% from the field as Three Rivers ended up with a 53-36 rebounding advantage.
Three Rivers led 20-9 after one quarter and outscored the Knights 57-36 in the second half.
"First half we tried to make things, create things that wasn't there," Walk said. "Second half we flowed, we flowed like water.
"First half was not water, it was concrete."
Brian Rosener - Daily American Republic