The Lady Raider offense rolled into the Christmas season and extended their win streak to five games. Three Rivers defeated Missouri Baptist JV 113-41 on Friday and Arkansas Baptist 91-73 on Saturday in two of their three highest scoring games of the season. The Lady Raiders had not scored more than 90 points since their season-opener. Lakeita Chappel led the Lady Raiders in scoring in both games. The freshman guard had 27 points, nine rebounds and eight assists against Missouri Baptist and 28 points against Arkansas Baptist as Three Rivers set an early tone in both games. "We did some really good things early. We had some back-door cuts, some easy baskets and some good transition baskets. I was really pleased with both sides of the ball tonight," Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk said after the Arkansas Baptist game. "It sets the tone. Doing it with seven kids last night and 7½ kids tonight (due to illness), the kids played their hearts out." Three Rivers (9-2) scored the first six points against Arkansas Baptist and Chappel had nine points in the first quarter. DeNayia Holmes' 3-pointer early in the second quarter gave Three Rivers its first double digit lead. The Lady Raiders out-scored the Buffaloes by at least six points in each of the first three quarters to take a 23-point lead into the fourth. After missing her first free throw, Chappel made 10 straight, including 4 for 4 in both the third and fourth quarters. She went into the weekend tied for third in scoring on the team at 10.8 points with a season-high of 16 points. After scoring a season-low four points against Missouri Valley JV on Nov. 18, Chappel has increased her scoring total in four consecutive games. Three Rivers also went 26 for 36 at the foul line while Arkansas Baptist (1-12) was 7 for 12.
Holmes was 6 for 6 on free throws and finished with 16 points. Markeia Porter and Hailee Erickson were also in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively. The Buffaloes' Essence Johnson got into foul trouble early, eventually fouled, out and finished with five points. When Three Rivers won 62-52 at Arkansas Baptist on Nov. 20, Johnson led with 21 points on 8 for 21 shooting. She was the only Arkansas Baptist player in double figures. Walk added that there were several instances during Saturday's game where he called for the Raiders to adapt on the fly, or to run a particular play for a specific instance, and they were able to do it. One example he gave was of a play that called for the Three Rivers' No. 5 position to hustle down the court and look for a quick pass into the post. It was a play in the moment and not an offensive set. In previous years, the Raiders might have forced that pass. "It takes a really high IQ bunch of kids to be able to do that. If you've had them for five years you can do that, but at the college level you only have them for 1-2 years, and they handle those adaptations really well," Walk said. "They just get it. They know what's going on most of the time." Three Rivers had all but one of its seven active players finish in double figures against Missouri Baptist. Behind Chappel's 27, Holmes and Casey Douglas both had 20. The guards were helped along by 33 points off turnovers. Markeia Porter and Hailee Erickson both had their first double-doubles of the season. Porter had a season-high 15 rebounds to go with 10 points. Erickson led the team with 16 rebounds, also a season high, and had 17 points. Catera Sawyers was also in double figures with 11 points. In scoring 113 points, Three Rivers shot 55 percent as a team and had a season-high 32 assists. Holmes and Chappel each had eight to lead the team. "That means we don't have any selfish kids on the floor, we're sharing the basketball, we're getting teammates involved and as a coach that's what you want to see," Walk said of the assist totals. The blowout win allowed Walk to try out some things the team had been working on in practice, particularly a 1-3-1 zone for most of the second half. "It is a great defense. You can stop a lot of people, but you can give up a lot of easy points if you don't get the rotations down. We're getting there," Walk said. Added Erickson, "I think it went pretty good. We still have a few things we can work on, but close to the end of the year, it will be pretty hard for anybody to score against it, I think."
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic