The Bess Activity Center was abuzz Monday night, which can mean only one thing. Basketball is back. Three Rivers hosted Raider Madness as the men’s and women’s basketball teams participated in a 3-point contest, a dunk contest and each held a scrimmage, marking the first live action fans could witness for the 2018-19 squads. Freshman Lady Raider Jordan Little was a standout performer in the women’s scrimmage. The Lady Raiders played four 3-minute, half-court quarters in their scrimmage, and Little had the hot hand the whole time. The Muscle Shoals, Alabama, native led her side to a 25-13 victory and scored 22 of her team’s points. With it being the first time playing in front of a crowd, coach Jeff Walk liked the effort he saw from his team. “(The competitiveness) is going to help us once we start playing against other teams,” Walk said. “If you compete that hard, those other teams aren’t going to like that.” Little splashed home six 3-pointers — including one at the buzzer in the third quarter — was the beneficiary of a nice pass inside from fellow freshman and Dexter alumna Hannah Thurmon for two and sliced through the lane for a layup in the fourth. “It felt really good,” Little said of her first time playing in front of the Three Rivers fans. “I was a little nervous at first, but once I hit the first one it was like, ‘Just keep shooting.’ “My goal is to lead the team, even as a freshman. Not maybe vocally but just by example and by getting my teammates the ball along with scoring on my own.” Walk sees a bright future ahead for Little. “Just her leadership abilities and just calmness. I think we’re going to be pleased throughout the year with her,” he said.
Before Little put on a show in the scrimmage, she was part of a hotly contested 3-point contest that got the night started. In the final round of the women’s contest, Little put up a score of 17. That wasn’t enough, though, as freshman and Twin Rivers alumna Katelyn South advanced to the final with 18 makes in the allotted minute, the highest score of the night. Poplar Bluff’s own Willie Lucas advanced to the final after posting 17 makes in the men’s final. Lucas went on to claim the 3-point crown by defeating South 13-8 in the final round. Scores weren’t kept for the dunk contest, but there was a healthy mix of alley-oops, clutch reverses and more to excite the fans.
The men’s scrimmage rounded out the night and brought a tight matchup. The white squad prevailed 38-32 with a couple big defensive stops at the end as the sides played a 10-minute half and a 5-minute half. “It felt good, you know, seeing everybody play together, everybody getting together and learning how to play with each other more,” Lucas said. “I think it was a good vibe today.” Sophomore Tristan Jarrett led his side with 10 points and a pair of triples to match two assists, while Tallon Fonda and freshman Mardaryeon Clark each put up eight points. “They’re young. This was a good experience for them,” coach Gene Bess said. “They’ve actually worked pretty good this fall. We feel good about them, but they just haven’t quite figured out how they’re going to have to play harder than they did tonight. “We’re not very big, and we’re going to have to make up by working harder and being smarter.” With the men facing their first preseason challenge Saturday in Dallas, Lucas is looking forward to one thing. “Winning. Every game. I don’t want to lose. They don’t want to lose, and I want everyone to know that Three Rivers is back on the map,” Lucas said.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic