Three Rivers had its chances, but Link Year Prep hit some clutch baskets to hand the Raiders their second consecutive loss Tuesday.
With the Raiders trailing by a point with under three minutes to play, Dannie Smith got free in the paint and grabbed an offensive rebound to stretch the Lions' lead to three points late in the game, and a game-tying 3-pointer from Tristan Jarrett rimmed out. Chase Adams connected on two free throws to put the Lions up by three points before they completed a 5-0 run in the final two minutes for a 91-85 win at the Bess Activity Center.
Jarrett scored 41 points to go along with seven assists, six rebounds and six steals. Abiodun Ayetimiyi secured his first double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, but the rest of the Raiders were held in check as the Lions ground out the win.
"Coach always makes us understand that we don't have big guys, so we always just have to go for the rebounds," Ayetimiyi said. "But most guys just keep forgetting about that. We just have to do it like a team effort. Like yeah, we know we don't have bigger guys, but I believe with effort we'll be able to do it on the boards."
With a distinct size advantage, the Lions were plus-11 on the glass as the Raiders had streaks where they had problems securing rebounds in the game.
"They were a lot bigger than we were, and haven't rebounded well this year," Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. "(Ayetimiyi) battles it hard, and I was really thinking that (Austin Parker) was coming into his own."
Both sides traded baskets for the majority of the last 10 minutes before the Lions scored the clutch baskets. The Raiders held a three-point lead with under five minutes to go when Jarrett hit a layup while getting knocked to the ground and drawing a foul for the 3-point play.
Payton Guiot responded with a 3 in the corner to pull the Lions within a point, and Gavin Harris converted a layup to put the Lions ahead for good. Smith gave Link Year a four-point lead with a layup before Jarrett responded with a 3 on the wing to draw within a point.
"That's (Jarrett's) game," Bess said. "We have to play around him because he is able to be a big difference in a game because he has that ability to get to the basket."
The Raiders got out to a fast start in the first two minutes, jumping ahead 9-2 with a 9-0 run. The defense looked engaged early as Abiodun Ayetimiyi stole a pass after a miss and stepped into a 3-pointer for the Raiders' first points of the night. Austin Parker was inserted into the starting lineup and hit an easy layup off a pass from Ayetimiyi.
Jarrett got in the scorebook with a steal and drive to the basket for two.
The Lions responded with a 7-0 run, but the Raiders responded to stretch their lead back to seven points. Khalil Johnson scored on a give-and-go with Parker, then Parker threw down a two-handed dunk in transition after beating everyone down the court.
Dannie Smith broke the Raider run with a putback, and that play started pulling the momentum toward the Lions. With Three Rivers' lead up to a game-high nine points, the Lions responded with 10 straight points to take the lead. Smith scored six on the run with a pair of treys, Tre Edwards made a layup on a fast break and Lamar Wright hit a putback through contact as the Lions took the lead.
Both teams traded baskets for the remainder of the first half with the Lions taking a five-point lead into the locker room.
The Lions boosted their lead to eight points with the first four in the second half, but the Raiders battled back. Jarrett scored eight of the team's first 10 points out of the break to pull the team within two points before both sides started trading shots.
Three Rivers forced 27 turnovers and held a 30-11 advantage in points off those turnovers.
Next up for the Raiders, they'll host MSU-West Plains at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic