Three Rivers coaches didn't have to drive far to lay the groundwork for their most successful run in program history.
The Raiders have won at least 20 games three years in a row featuring key players from Southeast Missouri High School.
"You look at the state of Missouri, you've got Drury who made it to the championship game this year, you have Central Missouri going to the Final Four in Division II, us and Moberly Area here, the Razorbacks making to the tournament, women's basketball-wise," Three Rivers coach Alex Wiggs said. "I think it says a lot about the area and not only Missouri, but also Arkansas, and just how many talented kids are there that can go out and win some games."
When they went to the national tournament in 2019, they featured players from Malden (Lana Reed), Twin Rivers (Katelyn South, Casey Douglas), Neelyville (J'Kayla Fowler) and Dexter (Hannah Thurmon). Van Buren's Jenny Morey, a starter for the softball team, also appeared in three games when the team was low on active players. Reed also played softball at Three Rivers.
After coming up short in the Region XVI championship last year and graduating the most successful sophomore class in school history, the Raiders are back at nationals in Lubbock, Texas, stronger than ever, one of two undefeated teams in the country and seeded ninth in the 24-team bracket.
Local products are again anchoring this year's run. Dexter (Chaylea Mosby) and Neelyville (Autumn Dodd) again have alumna on the roster, with Poplar Bluff (Abby Turner) and Ellington (Gracie Price) in the mix, as well.
Three other players are from high schools a few hours away from Three Rivers College in Myia Yelder (Conway Ark.), Joi Montgomery (Marion, Ark.) and Karlee Holland (Licking, Mo), meaning Wiggs and former coach Jeff Walk, who retired last year after 12 years at Three Rivers and 20 years at Twin Rivers, recruited nearly half the team and three players on Monday's starting lineup and still be home at the end of the night.
"There's some really good players locally and we're just blessed to be able to get the ones that we have now," Mosby said.
This year's Region XVI Player of the Year is Chaylea Mosby of Dexter.
As a freshman, Mosby came off the bench and averaged 11.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.2 steals per game. She scored a season-high 31 points in a 111-53 blowout of State Fair after going 12 for 15 from the field and 7 for 9 on 3-pointers.
Autumn Dodd, a Neelyville graduate, and All-Region XVI selection this season, averaged 6.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.4 steals off the bench as she continued to recover from missing her senior season after blowing out her knee, ultimately tearing her ACL, MCL and meniscus.
When Three Rivers went to online learning last spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the two local recruits stayed on campus and spent the 10-months between games working out, all day, every day.
"I was here for the workouts and I got in really good shape this summer. It just helped a lot," Mosby said.
Wiggs saw evidence of the work they were putting in early.
"You always work out harder when you workout with somebody else. I think it was good for Abby to go against those two, who are really, really strong," Wiggs said in January. "They pushed each other. They didn't want to be outdone by the other person."
Turner soon went from being a walk-on to earning a full scholarship. Dodd dropped to 120 pounds while healing her knee and weighed in at 150 heading into the season. She increased her vertical from 28 to 30 inches, and at one point over the summer, touched the rim on her completely healed leg.
"I just body people nowadays. It's great," she said prior to Three Rivers' season opener in January.
.Dodd has two starts this season and is often the first player off the bench. She is fifth on the team in minutes and is averaging 10.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 2.5 steals.
"I was coming off an injury," Dodd said. "I didn't even know if I could pick back up and run how I can now."
Turner, who has started four games, is almost equal in minutes with Three Rivers' only returning forward in Jamiyah Thomas. She leads the team in blocks (1.3) and is averaging 2.5 points and 3.4 rebounds.
A late addition to the roster, Ellington's Price was added during the Christmas break. She's come off the bench in 15 games, averaging 6 minutes per game, and is scoring 1.2 points with 1.1 rebounds.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic