POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. - Three Rivers secured the top seed in the Region XVI Tournament, but it didn't look pretty.
After beating State Fair twice by more than 30 points earlier in the season, the Raiders started slow Saturday before winning 74-59 at the Libla Family Sports Complex.
"It feels pretty good," said Three Rivers coach Alex Wiggs of earning the top seed. "The girls did a great job. All year long, we have fought off adversity. Maybe not necessarily with a loss, but we've still had injuries, we still had stuff like that, that's affected us, and they did a great job of pulling together."
The Raiders (16-0, 12-0 Region XVI) shot 30.1% in the game and 55.6% on free throws, while State Fair shot 42.6% overall and 60.7% on free throws.
Three Rivers made up the difference with points off turnovers and second-chance points. State Fair (0-13, 0-12) committed 31 turnovers that the Raiders converted into 38 points for a plus-31 advantage.
Three Rivers also had 16 more offensive rebounds to finish plus-22 on second-chance points. Though Three Rivers shot 12% worse than State Fair, Three Rivers took 83 shots compared to 47 for the Roadrunners and made five extra field goals off all those extra chances.
"I think you kind of saw tonight the effects of four games in eight days with the middle game being a five-hour road trip (to Moberly Area)," Wiggs said. "I felt like our effort was there, but it wasn't flowing like in our prior games. And a lot of that, give credit to State Fair. They mixed things up on us and did a good job."
All women's region tournament games this season will be played at the higher seed, and the Region XVI winner will receive an automatic bid in the national tournament.
Chaylea Mosby, who was held out of Wednesday's game with a suspected bone bruise and did not practice Thursday or Friday, led Three Rivers with 17 points on 5 for 14 shooting.
"We missed, I don't how many shots around the rim. We missed, I don't know how many wide-open layups. Being around this team for as long as we have, you're due for an off game," Wiggs said. "When everybody's off, you just hope you can still win those games, and we did that because of our points off turnovers."
The Raiders didn't score for the first 4 minutes as State Fair built a six-point lead.
Thornton made a 3 to get this started, and the Raiders tied the game less than a minute later.
Haywood picked off a pass for an easy layup to give Three Rivers its first lead with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter. It was part of a 15 point Three Rivers run to close the first quarter and put the Raiders ahead 23-11 at the buzzer.
Mosby made back-to-back 3s during the run, as well.
The Raiders led by as much as 14 in the second quarter, but the Roadrunners cut the lead to five points in the final minute.
Yelder was fouled on a 3 at the buzzer and added the free throw for a four-point play to send Three Rivers into the locker room with a 39-30 lead.
"I told them at halftime, we can't go out there and hit a 40-point shot," Wiggs said. "The way we've won these games is, every possession matters."
The Roadrunners cut the lead to two points midway through the third quarter after Eliyah Howard finished back-to-back layups.
Dodd sank a 3 off a kick-out pass by Mosby that put the Raiders back ahead by 10 with 2 minutes left in the third quarter.
Tieriney Echlos scored through a foul for the third quarter's final basket, leaving the Roadrunners down by eight.
Three Rivers kept a three-possession lead through the rest of the game and led by as much as 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic