Raiders fend off Grizzlies' attack

WEST PLAINS, Mo. — Another day another close win for the Raiders.

The Three Rivers men’s basketball team beat MSU-West Plains 89-83 Saturday for its third straight win by less than 10 points.

“Felt pretty good about the group Saturday. I think we are ready to move on. We played pretty focused and I think we learned some things and I like where we are at right now,” Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. “They executed better Saturday night than they have to this point and I think that is going to make us better too. We need to share the ball and swing the ball, that is just team basketball and we were pretty good Saturday night.”

The Raiders (13-8, 2-2 Region XVI) are now 8-4 in games decided by 10 points or less and 5-1 since Dec. 7. Their lone loss was against Mineral Area, which made a 3-pointer with 4 seconds left to beat the Raiders by a point.

Kinyon Hodges and Tallon Fonda led the Raiders with 15 points Saturday. Dominique Hardimon added 13 points and Hayden Sprenkel had 11. Hodges also had seven rebounds and four assists.

Hardimon finished with seven rebounds, including four offensive rebounds, and three assists. Austin Parker had five offensive rebounds in 11 minutes of playing time.

“It was really exciting for me to see (Austin Parker) get five offensive rebounds,” Bess said, adding Hardimon did also did well with four offensive rebounds. “If I can get two or three more to get five offensive rebounds we’ll be real good.”

Lydell Geffrard led the Raiders with 11 rebounds and was a free throw shy of a double-double against the Grizzlies (7-15, 0-2), who have now lost six in a row and eight of their last nine dating back to their first matchup of the season against the Raiders all the way back on Dec. 7, which had a similar score with Three Rivers winning 88-84.

Geffrard scored the first three baskets of the second half for the Raiders, but picked up his third foul a few minutes in and went to the bench with Three Rivers ahead by two.

The Grizzlies tied it at 57-all with 13 minutes left after Alex Peterson caught a no-look pass under the basket and dunked it.

After a timeout, Dionte Raines drilled a 3 with 2 seconds left on the shot clock. Soon after, Hardimon sank a long jumper to put the Raiders ahead by five and had the Grizzlies calling a timeout.

The Raiders went to go ahead by 10 points before the Grizzlies cut it back to five on two quick possessions.

With under 4 minutes left, Alex Peterson drove and scored through a foul, but missed the free throw that would have made it a one-point game.

Fonda countered by successfully completing a three-point play that also drew a fourth foul against Quentin Jones, who went to the bench.

As the clock ticked past 2 minutes and the Grizzlies down by five, MSU-West Plains missed a pair of free throws, but grabbed two offensive rebounds, drew a foul, and missed a free throw for an empty possession that burned nearly a minute off the clock.

The Grizzlies got a stop and Jones drove as Willie Lucas tried to draw the charge, but was called for the block as Jones hit the floor hard.

His free throw cut the lead to two with a minute left.

Hodges drew a fifth foul against Jones at the other end, and in the double bonus, he made the second.

Down by three with 45 seconds left, the Grizzlies’ Taevon Horton tried a long 3 with Fonda in his face and missed badly.

Hodges grabbed the rebound, was immediately fouled, and hit both free throws to put the Raiders up by five with 25 seconds left.

The Grizzlies got a quick basket and tried to force a turnover, but were called for a foul against Sprenkel, a 92.6% free-throw shooter, and he made both before the Raiders added one more late free throw to seal the game.

“They were a better team than they were the first time. They really played hard. They are well coached and we had to play hard to beat them,” Bess said.

At halftime, MSU-West Plains inducted former head coach and former Three Rivers assistant coach Tom Barr into the Grizzlies’ Hall of Fame. Barr was an assistant at Three Rivers for nine seasons, including Three Rivers’ 1992 national championship team before leaving in the offseason to become the Grizzlies’ first head coach.

“They really did a nice job. I was so happy to see that. The people in general were just real supportive of him and after the game they had a room, had some refreshments, and I went back there for a few minutes before I got on the bus. It was a class act,” Bess said.

In 11 seasons, Barr has won two Region XVI championships while coaching two Academic All-Americans, 17 All-Region XVI honorees and 31 players who transferred to Division I schools.

With the win, the Raiders finished the road portion of their Region XVI schedule 2-2 and will now host everyone, starting with Moberly Area at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Greyhounds won the first matchup 128-93 and handed Mineral Area its first loss of the season this past weekend.

“I think it is all still ahead of us,” Bess said. “Moberly looks like they are pretty much in the driver’s seat and Mineral Area is right there with them. The rest of us, we’re fighting it out.”

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