Region XVI Championship: Lady Raiders vs. Moberly Area

Monday, March 4, 2019
DAILY AMERICAN REPUBLIC/Nate Fields

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — No. 22 Three Rivers got punched in the mouth after the opening tip Saturday. Not literally, but Moberly Area came out on fire and scored the first 11 points of the game. Three Rivers went scoreless for the first five minutes and 24 seconds of Saturday's Region XVI Tournament championship. A team composed of seven freshmen could've folded in a situation like that. Everything was going against them, every bounce and every shot. Not this team, though. Three Rivers kept chipping away despite trailing by nine at halftime and as many as 15 in the game. “It's not the first game I've had like that,” Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk said. “I've had probably two or three through the course of coaching the 30-some odd years I've coached, being down like that, and a game to go home. “Fortunately, so far I've won all of them.” Moberly hit nine 3's on a 52.9 percent clip in the first half to take control. Three Rivers settled down, though, and fought all the way back, taking its first lead of the night with 3:33 left in the third quarter after Hailee Erickson split a pair of free throws. Meanwhile, Moberly Area's second-half shooting percentage from deep dipped to 33 percent. “I know everybody was anxious when we were down 15, but it comes a point in time where the kids just have to relax and play,” Walk said. “Once we finally made a shot, that's when we just started chipping away, chipping away.” Moberly scored on a couple of drives to the basket to go back up by three heading into the fourth. Jordan Little gave the Lady Raiders the lead for good when she pump faked, side-stepped a defender and drained a 3-pointer with 6:22 left in the game. Little scored 10 of her 19 points in the final 6:22 of the game, and it helped lift Three Rivers to an 82-77 win to clinch a region championship in what was a gut-check performance. Down the stretch, she knocked down four consecutive free throws when Moberly Area was keeping Hailee Erickson, the team's best free-throw shooter, from catching the ball late. “They never once had that look of going to fold up and quit,” Walk said. “Even in the locker room, they had that look of determination. They knew they were going to win. They had that moxie about it, that will.”