The Three Rivers Raiders took a step closer to climbing out of the cellar of Region XVI with an 88-73 victory over State Fair on Saturday night at the Bess Activity Center. Three Rivers held off a late charge by the Roadrunners to win its first regional game of the season. The Raiders improved to 9-13 overall an 1-5 in the region. State Fair fell to 17-6 and 2-3 and remains fourth in the standings. "They've been looking at us as the bottom of the totem poll here in our region. That's not a good feeling," Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. "We're trying to battle back and win a few region games. That's where it's at. "You've got to win a few games or you're going to be the fi fth seed. When you're the fifth seed, you've got to go to the fourth seed and play the first round. That could be a long trip. That might be over at State Fair." The Raiders built a 17-point lead in the first half and maintained a double figure advantage until State Fair rallied in the closing minutes. "They're a good basketball team. They beat us handily up there," Bess said of State Fair's 76-61 win Jan. 13 at Sedalia. "I was really pleased with the way we came out and played early.
"It was tough to keep staying in there when they came back hammering at us," Bess added. "… They've really good quickness and are physically strong. It was a good 'W.'" The Roadrunners sliced their deficit to 10 points three times in the second half before Tim Leavell made two free throws to cut their deficit to 79-71 with 1:09 to play. They cut Three Rivers' lead to 80- 73 on Tyreek Scott-Grayson's basket with 55.5 seconds left. The Raiders clinched the win at the free-throw line and got some help when State Fair's LePear Toles was called for a flagrant foul on Chris Stocks with 40.7 second to go. Stocks made both free throws, and Ludy Kayouloud scored inside on the ensuing possession to extend the Raiders' lead to 87-73. In the final minute, the Raiders went 6 for 8 from the free-throw line. Stocks led a balanced Three Rivers attack with 19 points. Keiondre Jefferson added 17 to go along with 13 rebounds for a double-double. Aidan Sanders scored 16 points, Jeffery Porter had 13 and Cameron Maddox scored 10. Leavell paced State Fair with 14 points. Grayson and Toles had 12 each, Caleb Coleman scored 11 and Dru Smith had 10. The Raiders used a 10-0 run to overcome an early 5-3 deficit. Porter sank 3 of 4 free throws to give them a 6-5 lead. Maddox scored the next two baskets, the first on a dunk, and Porter capped the rally with a 3-pointer. State Fair clawed back to within four (13-9) on a drive by Derrick Brown Jr. and a jumper by Coleman, but the Raiders answered with a 22-9 run to take a 35-20 lead. Three Rivers scored the final six points of the half to take a 44-27 halftime lead. The Roadrunners scored the first seven points of the second half to close within 10 of the lead, but Three Rivers pushed its lead to as many as 18 before the Roadrunners made their final push. The Raiders will host conference foe St. Louis Community College at 7 p.m. Tuesday then return to region play Saturday when they host 15th ranked MSU-West Plains.
Kyle Smith - Daily American Republic