Three Rivers ended its turbulent regular season on a winning note. In what was likely the final game at the Bess Activity Center with a new building scheduled to be finished for next season, the Raiders beat On Point Academy 106-73 to finish the regular season 12-17. It is the worst regular season record in 48 seasons under coach Gene Bess. "It doesn't bother me that much other than the fact that I feel like I feel our players haven't benefitted from this year as much as a lot of our players have. We just really never gelled and were forced like we usually are, but things happen," said Bess, who improved to 1,268-385. The Raiders will travel to MSU-West Plains for a play-in game at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The winner will face top seed Moberly Area at 6 p.m. Thursday at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo. Three Rivers was swept by MSU-West Plains by a combined six points during the regular season. "I'm still not ready for this season to end," Bess said. "If we can get focused we can compete." The Raiders improved to 427-68 all-time at the Bess Activity Center, which opened for the 1982- 83 season. Willie Lucas sank four 3-pointers in the first half and had 14 early points as the Raiders surged ahead to a 20 point lead. However, a poor finish to the half cost them much of the advantage. Three Rivers was still ahead by 20 with 2 1/2 minutes left when On Point closed the half strong, cutting the lead to five points with 19 seconds left. On Point's offense flowed through Justin Harris as they came back. Harris finished the first half with 18 points to ear the Panthers and was 5 for 12 on 3-pointers. He took 17 of the team's 40 attempts in the first half and ultimately went 10 for 25 for 30 points. Ludy Kayouloud had a putback at the buzzer for the Raiders to make it 50- 43 at halftime. "We got off to a good start and then we got to going 1-on-4 and let them back in the game. Then we got back out in the second half," Bess said. Three Rivers came out of halftime with an 11 point run to rebuild an 18 point lead. Aidan Saunders had six points during the run and Lucas made another 3. Moments later, Lucas one more to go 6 for 6 from beyond the arc and get 20 points for the game with more than 15 minutes still to play. He finished with a season high 28 points after going 7 for 9 on 3-pointers, also a season for 3-pointers in a game. Lucas added seven rebounds and was 10 for 16 shooting. Cameron Maddox followed Lucas with a dunk and the Raiders were back up by 20. Three Rivers led by as much as 33 in the second half. Six of the eight active Raiders finished in double figures with Saunders getting 23 points. Jeffrey Porter, Maddox and Kayouloud all had a double-doubles, with Porter getting 14 points and 10 rebounds while Maddox had 12 points and 11 rebounds and Kayouloud got 10 points and 11 rebounds. It was Kayouloud's fifth double-double of the season, Porter's fourth and Maddox's first. "Willie shot the ball well and Aidan got to the basket good. I thought Ludy played one of his better games and Porter continues to do everything you want a man to do. He is going to be hard to replace, but I am hoping we won't have to replace any of them for another two, three, four more games," Bess said. Chucky Wilson nearly got there a different way with 11 points and seven assists.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic