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Something special is in the air in Poplar Bluff, and folks in the area have a chance to witness history in the making over the next week or two.
Three Rivers College men’s basketball coach Gene Bess, already the winningest college coach in history at all levels, is quickly approaching his 1,300th win.
Currently sitting at 1,298 wins, Bess is just two shy of the milestone, and it could happen within the next few games.
Bess is in his 50th year coaching the Three Rivers team, a strong testament to his longevity, and his credentials speak for themselves: two national titles, 17 NJCAA tournament appearances and nine trips to the Final Four.
His winning percentage over the course of his career hovers around an astonishing 76%.
Three Rivers will play its arch rival, Mineral Area College, Saturday at the Libla Sports Complex in Poplar Bluff, and though a win wouldn’t reach the magic number, the game promises to be a good one.
At their prior meeting this season, Mineral Area, currently ranked fifth in the nation, beat Three Rivers by only a single point. Given the gravity of the situation, Bess’ players will surely go above and beyond to score one in the win column.
Three Rivers will finish out its 2019-20 regular season at home, with other upcoming games on Feb. 20 against Arkansas Baptist College and Feb. 22 against West Kentucky Community Technical College.
On Feb. 25, Bess and his team will take the court in the quarterfinals of the Region 16 tournament.
There’s no telling how much longer Bess will coach, and he’s certainly not saying, but it’s safe to say he’ll soon hand over the reigns to his son, Brian.
That means every win is special.
If you know him, you know Bess would say 1,300 is just another win and downplay the situation, but it’s not.
Coach Bess deserves our support as he reaches this milestone after 50 incredible years. Let’s hope that gymnasium is packed for this historic occasion.
Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .