MOBERLY, Mo. — Three Rivers is one win away from clinching the top seed in the Region XVI tournament.
The 11th-ranked and undefeated Raiders beat 14th-ranked Moberly Area 74-67 on Wednesday to sweep the season series.
"We haven't faced much adversity this year, and this was a good test for our team. I thought the girls did a great job of stepping up," Three Rivers coach Alex Wiggs said.
It was the Greyhounds' third region loss of the year, all to the Raiders, and with four region games left in the regular season, Three Rivers (15-0, 11-0) will clinch the top seed with a win against State Fair on Saturday at the Libla Family Sports Complex.
In their two meetings this season, Three Rivers has beaten State Fair by 36 and 39 points.
Earning the top seed carries extra importance this season. On top of the usual first-round bye, the higher seed will host each tournament game this season. With Region XVI also hosting the district playoff, the Raiders could have three postseason games at the Libla Family Sports Complex, on top of their three remaining home regular-season games against State Fair, Jefferson and Crowder.
"That will be so nice," Wiggs said. "That was a goal for us. We don't get a trophy for winning the regular season. But the thing we do get is this year; we get the reward of hosting the region tournament.
"If you have not come out to watch the girls play, they play extremely hard," Wiggs said.
Chaylea Mosby did not play against Moberly Area. She leads the team with 15.2 points per game on 46.8% shooting and is also the team's top 3-point shooter, making 41.1% of her eight attempts per game. Wiggs said she was held out to be given a chance to heal a little bit, but she is not injured.
"Chaylea was banged up tonight. Chaylea wanted to play. It was an executive decision by myself and our trainers," Wiggs said. "She's fine. She just needs a little rest."
Mosby is also third on the team in rebounds (5.9), second in steals (3.4) and second in assists (3.4). She and Joi Montgomery were the only two players to start every game this season.
The Raiders led by a point as the clock ticked past the 5-minute mark.
Moments later, Joi Montgomery, who had 13 rebounds, was fouled going for a defensive rebound that put Moberly Area (14-4, 8-3) in the bonus. She made one to put the Raiders up by four. Soon after, the Raiders committed their fifth foul, and Bryce Dowell stepped to the line and made two in the bonus.
The Raiders were still ahead a point with under 2 minutes left when Kierra Thornton got an offensive rebound and drew a fifth foul against B'Aunce Carter.
She made one, and Three Rivers got a stop before burning the shot clock under 10 seconds.
Thornton, who had 14 points, drove and banked in a shot to put the Raiders ahead by four before the Greyhounds called timeout with 58 seconds left.
The Raiders sat back in their 2-3 zone, and Myia Yelder tipped a pass high into the air and into Thornton's hands. She was quickly fouled and made one.
The Greyhounds tried for a quick shot, Ambranette Storr was fouled and made both free throws. The Greyhounds immediately put Thornton back on the foul line after she caught the inbounds pass. Again she made one, but the Raiders grabbed the offensive rebound and burned the clock to 23 seconds before Yelder was fouled. Shooting 68.5% from the line, she proved clutch and swished both to put the Raiders up by six and give herself 26 points on the night.
The Greyhounds searched for a 3 and eventually got one with 10 seconds left, but it was short, and the Raiders grabbed the rebound before heading to the foul line one last time with 5 seconds left.
Jamiyah Thomas had 20 points for the Raiders.
"What I saw tonight is when somebody goes down, other people are going to step up," Wiggs said.
Three Rivers scored the first seven points of the game to take the early lead. Thomas had a pair of baseline jumpers, and Yelder got a three-point play. Yelder also made a 3 late in the first quarter that gave the Raiders a nine-point lead.
Moberly Area cut the lead to four at several points in the second quarter, including heading into their final possession of the half, but missed a layup in the final seconds, and Three Rivers went into halftime with a 29-25 lead.
After rally scoring for much of the third quarter, Moberly Area got the ball in the post and tied the game for the first time at 43 with under 2 minutes on the clock.
Bi'Anna Pettis, who came off the bench for 21 points, stepped to the line soon after and made both free throws for the first lead change.
The back and forth scoring continued into the fourth quarter, with neither team able to do better than a two-possession advantage until Three Rivers' final free throw of the night.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic