WEST PLAINS, Mo. — The Raiders lost to MSU-West Plains by two points and by four points during the regular season. They never got that close in the second half Tuesday night. Down six points at halftime, Three Rivers fell behind by as much as 23 and lost 102-86 in the Region XVI Tournament quarterfinals. "I don't feel any different. I told my team several times, I'm going to give it my best shot. When the last game is over, I'm going to feel like I've done my best. If they haven't, they are going to have to live with that," said Bess, who also returned to his classic evasiveness about retirement after speaking candidly about the possibility of it this same time last year while suffering from knee pain. "I said five years ago I'd know when to go and I haven't left yet. I really want to stay for (Three Rivers) President (Wesley) Payne and my coaching staff. Other than that, I could walk off into the sunset anytime." A nemesis all season long, rebounding reared its head again. Three Rivers had 16 fewer rebounds, 13 fewer offensive rebounds and was minus-17 on second-chance points, which is one point more than the difference in the score. "We haven't been able to rebound all year. We have a lot of guys who are pretty oriented toward the offensive end. They've never rebounded or guarded to the extent you have to, to play at our level and they had a hard time adjusting to that," Bess said. "We have some guys who have some good promise, but we were never be able to be physical and rebound and guard like we wanted to."
West Plains had two players grab four offensive rebounds and two get three. The Raiders' shortest player, Jeffery Porter at 6-feet, led the team with three offensive rebounds and matched Corey Bowen and Willie Lucas for a team-high five total rebounds. Radshad Davis led the Grizzlies with 10 rebounds and had a double-double with 19 points. Ricky Torres led West Plains with 23 points on 50 percent shooting. Aidan Saunders led all scorers with 25 points for the Raiders. He was 10 for 18 overall and 5 for 7 on free throws to go with four assists, which also led the team. Porter had 14 points while Cameron Maddox got 11 and Chris Stocks had 10 to give Three Rivers four players in double fi gures. "I'm going to miss these sophomores," Bess said of Saunders, Porter and Ludy Kayouloud. "They really came to play on the offensive side of the court, but we couldn't get those big stops." There were seven lead changes and two ties in a high-scoring first half. The Raiders opened with a 7-2 lead and stayed ahead for the first six minutes of play. The Grizzlies took their first lead when Eric Lovett sank a 3 at the 14-minute mark. After swapping the lead back and forth, West Plains stayed ahead for a few minutes and the Raiders tied the game for the first time at 22 with 10 minutes to play. A few minutes later, Maddox sank back-to-back 3s and Three Rivers retook the lead for a minute. Torres sank a 3-pointer for the Grizzlies with six minutes left for the final lead change of the game. West Plains pushed its lead to as much as eight before the Raiders cut it to one point with a minute to play. Burone Edwards scored through a foul and Davis sank a 3 to send the Grizzlies into halftime with a six-point lead. They doubled it in the fi rst fi ve minutes of the second half. Torres soon made it 15 points with a 3, and later putback his own missed shot to increase the lead to 20 with 7 1/2 minutes to play. "Countless things (were worse than the first two games). Rebounding, getting back, transition defense, not moving the ball on offense, just little things that bit us in the butt tonight," Porter said.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic