Down a point with 21 seconds left in double overtime, Jeffery Porter dribbled up court, drove and kicked to Chucky Wilson at the top of the key. Wilson dribbled down the lane and missed an off-balance shot, and the Raiders missed a putback. Porter and Wilson both got hands on the rebound and Porter, in between three Arkansas Baptist defenders, was fouled on the thirdtry putback with 0.5 seconds left. Porter made the first free throw, and the Raiders pulled everyone off the lane to defend a potential game-winning buzzer beater. Porter's second free throw missed short, but Arkansas Baptist was called for a lane violation despite no Raider competing for the rebound. "I was disappointed I missed the first one, but I felt like it was just a second chance to get a free throw," Porter said. Wilson and Porter couldn't help but let out some nervous laughter at the moment. Porter stood at the foul line waiting for the refs to finish explaining the call to the unhappy Arkansas Baptist coaching staff. "You don't normally see that happen and Chucky kind of evened me out so I wasn't too nervous about it," Porter chuckled. "He said 'You better hit this free throw.'" His third attempt was again a little short, but this time it bounced off the front of the rim and in to give the Raiders a 105- 104 win in double overtime. "I feel like our kids battled and never gave up. We need one like this to get things going," Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. The win ended and nine game winning streak for the Buffaloes going back to Jan. 17. With his brother and Washington Wizards star Otto Porter Jr. watching from the stands, Jeffery Porter led Three Rivers with 23 points, 10 rebounds and five assists over 41 minutes. "His brother showed up tonight and I had a feeling he might have saved his best for this one, but Porter has been playing really well for us all year," Bess said. He had six offensive rebounds, twice as many as any player for either team, and was 7 for 7 on free throws after his only miss was negated by the lane violation.
"He has such great feel for the game and he puts the ball on people when they are open. Somebody is going to miss a pretty good player at a pretty high level if they don't get him," Bess said. The Raiders (11-15) had five players in double figures with Aidan Saunders and Wilson getting 17 points, Chris Stocks scoring 14 and Keiondre Jefferson getting 12. After losing by a point at Arkansas Baptist earlier in the season, the rematch more than lived up to its billing with 21 lead changes and 20 ties. In that first game at Arkansas Baptist (13-13), which is a physically brutal game for the Raiders every year, Wilson took a hard fall going up for a layup and landed hard, hurting his back. He missed three games, including a Region XVI loss against Moberly Area, and Thursday's 17 points and four rebounds over 34 minutes off the bench were his best numbers in four games since coming back. "I just wanted to get back," Wilson said. "I wasn't worried about the injury, I just wanted to play my game and get them back and get the win." His emotion poured out when he scooped up a loose ball and drove for a thunderous dunk that put the Raiders up by two with 30 seconds left in overtime. Wilson was roaring before his feet touched the ground. "I had a (Russell) Westbrook moment. I just had the Westbrook mentality right there," Wilson said. "The momentum of the crowd gets your adrenaline pumping, so I just tried to dunk it as hard as I could and when I did, the yelling came out. I felt like I was Westbrook." Arkansas Baptist tied it up at the free-throw line and the Stocks drove and was fouled. He made both free throws to put the Raiders up by two with 15 seconds left, but Arkansas Baptist drove and scored at the buzzer to force a second overtime. The Raiders were down by as much as 12 in the first half after a slow start to the game. "We had a really, really bad start. We've done that a couple times lately. It doesn't make sense to me why we can't come better prepared," Bess said. "We haven't had a good year but there is always a chance that you can get things together. I've known teams to get to the national tournament with a number of losses." Three Rivers was 0 for 7 on 3-pointers in the first half, but shot 54 percent inside the arc and went 10 for 12 on free throws to tie the game going into halftime. After a back-and-forth second half, it was tied at 83 with Three Rivers' ball with 15 seconds left. Porter dribble and tried for a shot with seconds left, but was blocked, and the Buffaloes missed a potential game-winner at the other end. The Raiders host Mineral Area at 7 p.m. Saturday to end their Region XVI schedule.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic