Second half surge powers Raiders past State Fair

Second half surge powers Raiders past State Fair

Clinging to a four-point lead at halftime Saturday night, the Three Rivers College men's basketball team needed a strong second half to overcome the State Fair Roadrunners.

They got it.

The Raiders put up 60 points after the intermission and used a game-changing run early in the second half to break the game open and beat State Fair 100-76 at the Libla Family Sports Complex.

So what did Three Rivers head coach Brian Bess tell his team in the locker room?

"When we get in the paint and kick it, we're really hard to guard," Bess said. "When we force things at times and try to score through or over — or around — a defense, we're playing into their hands. So we just made a few adjustments."

Kyle Edison's free throws with 6:25 left in the first half gave the Raiders (12-12, 3-4 Region 16) a 32-18 lead, but State Fair (9-15, 2-5) answered with a 17-4 run, cutting the Three Rivers lead to 36-35 with 1:02 left before halftime.

Trailing 37-35, the Roadrunners had a chance to tie the game with 34.8 seconds left in the first half and Ben Miller at the line, but he missed the second — and potential tying — free throw, leaving it a one-point Three Rivers lead. Demetris "Meechie" White then answered with a three-point play with 6.2 seconds left in the first half to make it a two-possession game going to the locker room.

State Fair did not go away, cutting the Raiders' lead to 45-42 on Cliff Barrow's 3-pointer with 16:56 left in the contest. However, Three Rivers answered with a 19-4 run, capping the run with Edison's free throws with 11:44 to go to make it 64-46.

Bryce Wallace's free throws with 9:41 to go in the game gave the Raiders their first 20-point lead of the night at 68-48. The Roadrunners came no closer than 16 points the rest of the way, and Joey Thomas's layup with 36 seconds left gave Three Rivers 100 points.

The Raiders shot 55 percent from the field (29-for-53), including 56 percent (10-for-18) behind the arc. Three Rivers also shot 84 percent (32-for-38) from the free-throw line and committed just nine turnovers.

"We got really good contributions from most of our guys," Bess said. "I thought everybody that I put in contributed. I thought everybody was really focused."

Edison led the Raiders with 19 points, while White added 14 and the duo of Wallace and Faheim Meran each had 13. Thomas and Caleb Young each contributed nine points, while Robert "Deuce" Alexander finished with eight.

"Faheim did a really good job on (Barrow), who's their best player," Bess said. "In the first half, I think (Barrow) made a 3 on him and (Faheim) fouled him on his second 3-pointer ... but I thought after that, he really did a good job guarding him."

Three Rivers is back in action Wednesday when Mineral Area comes to town for a Region 16 contest. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Libla Family Sports Complex.

"They are really good — probably the best defensive team we've played all year — very well-coached and can be quite a challenge," Bess said. "But it should be a lot of fun and hopefully we have a good crowd."


Mike Buhler - Daily American Republic