Parker, Raiders fend off Grizzlies

Parker, Raiders fend off Grizzlies

Three Rivers College coach Gene Bess called it the best game of Terrence Parker's career. Parker spent the end of it bleeding. The Three Rivers big man finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, and probably six stitches as the Raiders won their first home region game of the season 81-78 over MSU-West Plains University on Saturday. The Raiders (16-5, 2-2 Region XVI) were ahead by seven with 90 seconds to play when the Grizzlies' Yannis Mendy scored through a foul by Parker, who took an elbow to the cheek in the process.

"I didn't even feel it," Parker said. "I didn't know I was bleeding." His jersey was good and stained by the time anybody blew a whistle and he dripped on the court all the way to the bench. Play was stopped for 2 minutes as staff cleaned Gene Bess Court, and Mendy eventually hit the free throw to make it a 4-point game. Parker did not return.

Three Rivers worked the shot clock down before Gabe Grant missed a corner 3. With under a minute to go, Marcus Blackwell missed a layup and the Grizzlies kept possession on a jump ball before Mendy scored off the inbound pass.

With a 6-second difference between the shot and game clocks, Ronnie Carson drove and lost the dribble out of bounds with 15 seconds to go. Ricky Torres dribbled up the floor for MSU-West Plains, drove, hit the backboard and nothing else with his layup and Sadaeys Miller was immediately fouled on the rebound with 1.6 seconds left. "I told (Miller) when he went to the free-throw line, whatever you do, don't shoot it short," Bess said. With a chance to ice the game, Miller missed it short and the Grizzlies (9-12, 0-2 Region XVI) called a timeout. He swished the second and Mendy air balled a three-quarter court shot to force overtime.

"When (the Grizzies) almost beat Mineral Area, I thought these guys were the real thing," Bess said. Parker said this was the first time he's ever been cut in a basketball game and the first time he's ever received any kind of a cut that might need stitches, which team trainer Costas Papanicolaou estimated at a half dozen. The foul was one of the last of 45 called in the game, 22 against the Raiders. "It was real physical," Parker said. "I had to fight through." Three Rivers was 22 for 28 at the foul line and the Grizzlies were 20 for 25.

Camron Reedus and Grant each hit seven free throws for the Raiders. Grant came off the bench and led the Raiders with 18 points and nine rebounds. He was 5 for 14 shooting. Reedus added 15 on 3 for 12 from the field and Aidan Saunders got 13 points on 50 percent shooting. Parker was 6 for 8 shooting and 3 for 4 at the foul line. "Parker is gradually getting better I think," Bess said.

"We had to get a lot of help from a lot of people tonight." Jeffery Porter played 5 minutes in his first game back from injury. Porter started the first nine games of the season, but has been on the shelf since the Thanksgiving tournament. Neither team took a timeout in the first half. Why would they? The biggest lead was seven points. The biggest run was five. There were six ties and five lead changes. Saunders gave the Raiders the initial lead with a layup seconds after the opening tip.

Three Rivers held that lead, to some extent, for the next 11 minutes. They built it up to five points after Saunders finished a runout a few minutes in. Reedus sank a 3 later on to make it seven. Midway through, the Grizzlies cut it to three points after Stefan Lakic finished a three-point play. Soon he'd tie it up at 25 with two more free throws. Parker scored to keep the Raiders in front and the Grizzlies just tied it up two more times before they took their first lead with a 3 with 5 minutes to play.

MSU-West Plains never led by more than two points in the first half, but finished on the better side of the rally scoring when Dwayne Orija made a free throw with 90 seconds left that put the Grizzlies ahead by one and set the halftime score. MSU-West Plains opened the second half with corner 3 after corner 3 and sank two early to go ahead by six. The Raiders immediately tied it up at 50 and then Grant picked off a steal, threw in the dunk, shouted and flexed every muscle he had in celebration. Next trip down the court, he buried a 3 with a hand in his face and MSU-West Plains, on the wrong end of a 13-2 run, called the first timeout by either team. The Grizzlies ended the run with four quick points out of the break, but weren't able to take the lead.

Midway through the second half, Reedus sank a 3 to give the Raiders the first double-digit lead by either team in the game. A minute later, the Grizzlies had cut it in half. With just under 6 minutes to go, Orija got a three-point play to get the Grizzlies back within one possession. This time, Saunders came through at the other end with a bucket for the Raiders and Reedus added two free throws on their next possession to get the lead back to seven, and the Grizzlies never tied it again.