Willie Lucas couldn't get the ball enough early. Lucas had his best game of the season as the Three Rivers men's basketball team beat Tennessee Prep 81-75 on Friday at the Bess Activity Center in the Peoples Community Bank Thanksgiving Classic. Lucas was 8 for 11 shooting and 5 for 7 on 3-pointers to lead the Raiders with 23 points to go with six rebounds as the Raiders won their fourth straight game. It was a season high for the Poplar Bluff alum, who has started six of seven games in his freshman season and is third on the team in scoring with 10.4 points per game. "It felt great. I had a good rhythm and just felt good the whole game," Lucas said. "It was probably the best game I've had and I'm just going to keep going off that." Lucas was on fire from the start with 15 of the team's fi rst 20 points. Of his 11 shots, he took eight before getting subbed out for the fi rst time. He started with a 3 and a three-point play on consecutive possessions early. He soon sank a trio of 3s in the span of 2 minutes, the last of which put the Raiders ahead by 10 as he went to the bench for a 2 minute breather. Lucas slowed down after that and finished with 19 points in the fi rst half. He opened the second half with a 3 and later added a free throw. His 3 to open scoring in the second half put Three Rivers ahead by 18 points, its biggest lead of the game.
Three Rivers (5-2) was still up 10 with under 4 minutes left when Tennessee Prep scored, got a turnover, two free throws and added a 3 for seven points in under a minute. The 3, sank by big man Will Mangnum, cut Three Rivers' lead to one possession for the first time since there was 15 minutes left in the first half. "I saw a lot of potential in that Tennessee Prep team," Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. With more than 2 minutes left in the game, the Raider defense stiffened and didn't give up another basket. "They really raised their level. They played harder," Bess said. Jeffery Porter, who had eight points, six rebounds and fi ve assists, drove and sank an off-balance layup with a minute to go to put the Raiders up by fi ve. At the other end, Darius Carter air-balled a 3, but Tennessee Prep got the offensive rebound. Point guard Lealand Kirkendoll drove and dished to post man Anthony Mason, but he fumbled the pass and the Raiders fell on the loose ball and called timeout. The Diplomats trapped the inbounds pass, got a turnover and drew a foul. In the bonus, they made one free throw to cut the lead to four with 30 seconds to go. The Diplomats trapped again and Porter, while sitting on the court, passed out of the pressure before eventually getting the ball back and being fouled with 20 seconds to go. Porter made both free throws, which set the final score, and Ludy Kayouloud capped the win with a late block for the Raiders. Kayouloud fi nished with his first double-double as a Raider with 14 points and 11 rebounds, as well as two blocks, two assists and three steals. "Ludy had a nice game. He didn't rebound and guard that big guy down late, but he hasn't played a lot of ball," Bess said. "Our big guys are playing pretty good. They don't see the ball much. We got it to Ludy early, but I think our strength down late is going to be our big guys. I think if (Keiondre Jefferson) could settle down and get his game together, he gives us another man around the basket, too." Kayouloud and Lucas were a combined 14 for 19 shooting (73.7 percent) while the rest of the team was 14 for 41 (34.1 percent). Aidan Saunders added 15 points for Three Rivers and seven rebounds on 5 for 17 shooting. Three Rivers committed 21 turnovers and allowed 29 points off turnovers as the Diplomats trapped ran a full-court trap for much of the game. The Raiders, though, shot 47 percent overall, 10 percent better than Tennessee Prep. Carter led the Diplomats with 15 points.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic