Nobody led by double digits, because Region XVI basketball. In front of a packed house of an estimated 1,200 fans, Three Rivers College lost to No. 6 ranked Mineral Area 80-78 in overtime on Saturday at the Bess Activity Center. "It personified (region basketball)," Three Rivers sophomore Camron Reedus said. "Anybody can come in and beat anybody. Always the toughest games to play in." The Raiders (14-4, 0-1 Region XVI) didn't score during the first 3 minutes of overtime, but kept within four points.
With a minute to go, Gabe Grant swished a 3 to take the lead and fist pumped three quarters of the way down the court. Shawn Roundtree answered for Mineral Area (17-0, 1-0 Region XVI) with a drive and a layup with 20 seconds to go. Grant missed another 3 off the front of the rim and the Raiders sent Darius Thompson to the line with 10 seconds to go. A 61 percent free-throw shooter, he missed the first and made the second. Ronnie Carson dribbled up the floor and handed it off to Reedus. He looked for space before kicking it back to Grant with two seconds left, and he missed the game-winning 3. "We're going to have to get back to the drawing board," Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. "It's a terrible loss, but life goes on." After a quiet first half where he scored four points and made one field goal, Reedus finished with a team-high 22 points. He was 5 for 16 shooting and hit 9 of 10 free throws.
Aidan Saunders had 20 points, second-most for him this season. He had 10 points in each half and was 7 for 13 shooting. It was the first time the freshman has scored in double figures since Dec. 4 against Southwestern Illinois. Saunders, who is averaging close to 11 points, had a season-high 25 points in Three Rivers' season-opening win against Lincoln Trail. He also scored in double figures in eight of the first 12 games before going five in a row in single digits.
With a minute to go in regulation and the Raiders ahead by one, Amar Miller drove, kicked it out to Lamar Morgan, and he cut across the lane the other way for a layup that put the Cardinals ahead. At the other end, Saunders swished a 15-footer with 37 seconds left. The Raiders trapped at the other end, and Ronnie Carson stole a pass in the paint, led the runout and was fouled near midcourt. In the double bonus, he rattled in the first and missed the second. With 22 seconds to go, Mamadou Diakhaby jumped another pass and was fouled as he was falling out of bounds. He missed the first and made the second. "I expect those (steals) because we are out in passing lanes and I expect to get some in clutch time," Bess said. "I do feel like our kids are going to play hard. We lost four games and those were right to the wire. One of these days we are going to figure some things out and start winning those." Roundtree then sank a long 3 with 10 seconds to go. Carson had the ball up top for the Raiders' final possession and tried to drive but couldn't find room. With seconds left, he gave it up to Reedus, who missed an offbalance 3 at the buzzer.
"It came down to one or two plays. I'm not saying we played good or bad, but one or two plays, if we make those …," Reedus said. Mineral Area's Zac Cuthbertson picked up a technical foul, and his third foul overall with 11 minutes remaining, when he blocked a shot and taunted afterward. Reedus made one of the free throws. Cuthbertson ultimately fouled out with 4 minutes left in regulation. Roundtree, who is averaging close to 9 points a game, led Mineral Area with 24. The Cardinals' leading scorers, Cuthbertson and Devin Thomas, were held to 12 and eight points. Combined, they are averaging 27 points a game.