The Three Rivers College men's basketball team didn't allow a second-chance point as it dominated the boards Monday night against Strength In Motion International. Coupled with 21-4 run to start the second half, the Raiders ended a five game losing streak with an 85-69 win at the Bess Activity Center. Three Rivers grabbed 21 more total rebounds. Sophomore forward Ludy Kayouloud led the team with 21 points and 15 rebounds, including 10 offensive rebounds, both season highs on a boards. "I'm just trying to come out and compete. I'm trying to get out of this losing streak that we've been having, just come out and play hard. That's all it is," Kayouloud said. It was Kayouloud's third double-double of the season and his first since Dec. 2. "I liked the way Ludy played tonight. I liked the way Corey (Bowen) played," said Raiders coach Gene Bess. "We have to get better inside play. If we can get better post play, to me that is the key to the rest of our success for the rest of the year. It was good to see Ludy get some things down and Corey had a pretty good game at times." The day after Kayouloud recorded his most recent doubledouble on Dec. 2, Three Rivers out-rebounded Southwestern Illinois in a 106-90 win that Three Rivers would later have to forfeit due to an ineligible player. Monday was the fi rst time since that game where Three Rivers grabbed more rebounds than their opponent. The Raiders are 1-5, including three Region XVI losses, since playing Southwestern Illinois. "For the previous couple of games. We haven't done good in the rebounding, so we've been practicing rebounds a lot. We have just got to be locked in, got to be focused on the rebound all the time," said Kayouloud, who added the Raiders have been spending more than half of their recent practices on rebounding. "It has been helping us out a lot." Three Rivers was down a point at halftime and took the lead right away when Saunders opened the second half by putting back his own missed shot to give the Raiders (7-10) their first lead since the opening minutes.
Strength took the lead back, and with the shot clock winding down, but Cameron Maddox rattled in an NBA-lenghth 3 to put the Raiders up by two. After a Strength turnover, Saunders swished a catch-and-shoot 3 off an inbouds play. Then he stepped to the line to add a free throw, which was also the fourth foul in Strength's James Johnson. Then Kayouloud scored off a Raider steal in the backcourt and Strength, which went from up one to down eight in two minutes, took a timeout. A minute later, Bowen dunked a third-try putback, Chucky Wilson picked off a pass for a near-dunk layup, and Wilson zipped a pass to Bowen underneath the hoop for a bucket through a foul. Bowen missed the free throw, but the Raiders were up by 12 with 14 minutes left, giving them the first double-digit lead. Three Rivers led by as much as 19 in the second half. "My assistant coaches noticed that they were trapping us on that Kansas play we run," Bess said. "We were ball screening and they were trapping us. We kind of took advantage of that. I have to give (Brian Bess and Bryan Sherrer) credit for that. We scored a couple baskets off of that and that is enough to kind of turn the game around." Stength in Motion, a prep school out of San Antonio, made the 780-mile drive to Three Rivers on Thursday in order to beat the storm. "If they hadn't of been here we probably would have called this game off," Bess said. "But we needed this game. It has turned out to be a blessing for us. But those three coaches are gentlemen on that other team. These kids who are playing for them are blessed to have people like that working with them." Being a prepatory school, the players on Strength in Motion are all looking for colleges. "They'll be players that we might recruit. In fact, they told us they would leave them up here if we wanted to register them, scholarship them and get them in school. But we weren't quite ready to do that, I guess," Bess said. "They had a couple of big guys who I kind of liked." A similar situation happened a few years ago when Three Rivers played a preparatory school that had Christian Malumba on the roster. Ibrahim Djambo, a freshman with Three Rivers at the time, told the coaches that he knew Malumba from playing basketball growing up in Africa. Malumba was playing for the Raiders the following year. The Raiders play their next two games on the road, at MSU-West Plains and Arkansas Baptist, and then begin an extended homestand where they will finish the season with 10 of their final 11 at home, including their final four Region XVI games. "I've usually been one of those guys who'd just about assume play on the road as I would at home," Bess said. "But I think this team here, we need just about all the help we can get. I think homecourt will help us and I think a lot is going to depend on how well we get prepared to play these Region games." Three Rivers' only road game in the final month of the regular season is at Lincoln Trail on Feb. 19. "It is always good to be home. You know the court, you know the people around, you're hyped. It is easier to play harder when you play at home, every time, always," Kayouloud said. The Raiders will also be helped out by more time between games. The Strength in Motion game was their third in four days, including back-to-back games against Moberly Area and State Fair. Three Rivers won't play back-to-back again during the regular season and their only grueling stretch on the calendar is from Feb. 10-19 when they will play four home games followed by their final road game at Lincoln Trail.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic