JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk blames the officials. "I just feel like we got cheated. I can honestly say in 30 years, this is probably the first time ever that I've felt like that," Walk said. Crowder shot 40 free throws to 16 by Three Rivers and scored 12 more points from the foul line as the Roughriders won 75-64 in the Region XVI Tournament semifi nal at Lincoln University. Walk felt the defense played well, played equal to Crowder. Both teams played man-to-man. The stats, in nearly every other category, were about equal. "We played the same way they played," Walk said. "Every aspect of the ballgame, we outplayed them except for one. They shot 24 more free throws than we shot and you can't beat a ballclub when they do that. I don't know why that happened today … I even tried to get a technical late in the game and they wouldn't give me a technical. When that happened, I was pretty much assured they knew what they were doing." Three Rivers' Markeia Porter picked up a technical Sydni Williams picked up a flagrant with both finishing with four fouls. Lakeita Chappel and Alex Kohler both fouled out. Williams finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds while Porter had 11 points and seven rebounds. "I feel like we got taken advantage of and our kids never had a fair chance to win the ballgame," Walk said. The Roughriders had half as many turnovers and eight more points off turnovers, but Walk didn't think that was the reason for the loss. Both teams were about even on second-chance points, points off the bench and 3-pointers. There were 15 lead changes and 14 ties in the back-and-forth game. It was tied at halftime and the Raiders led by a point going into the fourth quarter.
Crowder, which shot 62.5 percent on free throws, pulled away with 26 points in the final quarter, 12 more than Three Rivers. "We played a heck of a ballgame," Walk said. "You can't win when you don't shoot any free throws in the first half." Third-year sophomore DeNayia Holmes led Three Rivers with 16 points to go with six rebounds and three assists. Hailee Erickson added 10 points and made two of Three Rivers' five 3-pointers. Zahria White led Crowder with 23 points and 12 rebounds while Morgan Crawford added 12 points after going 6 for 8 on free throws. When Crowder defeated Three Rivers 91-73 in the regular season, it was 30 for 46 from the foul line while Three Rivers was 12 for 19. When Three Rivers won the rematch, the Lady Raiders were 17 for 27 on free throws and Crowder was 16 for 23. Three Rivers will lose sophomores in Holmes, Porter, Kohler, Catera Sawyers and Kahliya Murry. "I told kids after the ballgame, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in my life in that second than with those gals in that locker room. They battled all year long, did what we asked them to do. Those sophomores led us the entire way," Walk said. "I can't say enough about the way the sophomores played today." Despite being unhappy with how the season ended, Walk said he was proud of the team winning 20 games two years in a row after losing eight of the top nine scorers in the offseason. Holmes, who averaged 8.2 points last year, was the only person to return who averaged more than five points per game. Freshman Lakeita Chappel led Three Rivers in scoring for the season at 13.5 points. Erickson averaged 11.5 and Williams averaged 8.7 points and 6.6 rebounds to give the coaching staff a potential core to build around in the offseason.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic