Three Rivers College picked up a much needed win after a prolific night of offense. The Raiders beat North Arkansas 109-96, which was the second most points they have scored in a game this season. "The win feels great. We are going to celebrate it, but we are not going to celebrate it too much because we have eight games left," Three Rivers sophomore Aidan Saunders said. "We are still trying to finish out the season as best we can. The win feels great but we still have more to do." Three Rivers (8-13) scored a season-high 117 points in a win over West Kentucky on Dec. 2 after they shot 54 percent from the field. Three Rivers shot a little worse overall this time, 47 percent, but made up the difference by shooting 42 percent from outside the arc and making a seasonhigh 13 3-pointers. The win ended a three-game losing streak and was Three Rivers' second victory since Dec. 9, a span where it has gone 2-8. Things were going well enough that Ludy Kayouloud, Three Rivers' sophomore post man, decided to attempt his second 3-pointer of the season. With the Raiders ahead by 16 early in the second half, Kayouloud caught the ball in front of his own bench. Wide open, the big man hesitated, checked his feet, and missed a 3. The Raider bench celebrated the Parisian taking a shot anyway. Recent addition Kolby Bess did make his first basket as a Raider when he swished a late 3. Bess, who joined the team a little more than a week ago because of low roster numbers, spotted up from the left side and in front of where the Three Rivers baseball team was sitting in the stands. The baseball team rose as Bess took the shot and celebrated the moment with its biggest roar of the game. Bess smiled and shot an imaginary arrow at the team as he jogged back down the court. "I never exactly told him not to shoot but I think he had a pretty good idea that I didn't want him to shoot," Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. "But in the game the way it was, I didn't have any problem with it. And that will be a memorable moment for him in the future." The addition of Bess to the roster proved needed as three of the eight active players fouled out. Bess played six minutes. "It is kind of a precarious way for a coach to live when he doesn't have enough people on the bench," Coach Bess said. "I was concerned coming into this game because of lack of numbers, but now I feel pretty good about this one and I'm thinking about State Fair (on Saturday)." Saunders led the Raiders with a season-high 30 points and seven rebounds after successfully driving to the basket pretty much whenever he felt like it. "We've just got guys that can get the ball to the hole. They do that just about as well as any team I've had," Bess said. "The thing that we don't do is run our offense good. So we end up not putting the other team through the grinder and we don't make fatigue a factor."
Saunders was 10 for 18 inside the arc and 1 for 7 outside of it to go with seven rebounds. It was the fifth game in a row where Saunders shot better than 43 percent after he shot 18 percent in a loss at State Fair. "I really appreciated the job that Aidan Saunders did tonight," Coach Bess said. "(Aidan) made his selections a lot better tonight." Keiondre Jefferson returned to the lineup from a concussion he suffered at State Fair on Jan. 13 and his impact was immediate. After coming off the bench a couple minutes into the game, Jefferson had fi ve points, three rebounds and an assist in his fi rst shift, which lasted about fi ve minutes. In that time, Three Rivers went from being tied at 4-all to leading 21-11. Three Rivers increased its lead to 17 points over the next three minutes and maintained control of the game the rest of the night. Three Rivers led by as much as 23 points late in the second half. Jefferson finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season and first since Nov. 4. "I was a little winded and tired, but I kept fi ghting and pushing through to help my team come out with a win," Jefferson said. "Since I've been out, we haven't had too many people crashing the glass, too many people blocking out and getting defensive rebounds. So I came out with a lot of defensive energy and focus, not really looking to score first but to get defensive stops and get my team involved fi rst." Cameron Maddox finished with a season-high 25 points after going 6 for 11 on 3-pointers and 8 for 15 overall. His previous season high was 13 points, which was just this past Saturday against Moberly Area. Maddox has scored in the double digits in three straight games now after scoring 10 points just once in the previous 18 games. Chris Stocks added 16 points and six rebounds and Jeffery Porter got 14 points and fi ve rebounds. Kamari Balton led North Arkansas (15-6), a Division II school, with 38 points after shooting 13 for 21 overall and 4 for 9 on 3-pointers.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic