Raiders limit miscues, give Bess win No. 1,199
After Monday's game, Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said there are three main things in basketball -- playing hard, playing smart and playing together.
The Raiders have got the first down and the locker-room chemistry needed for the third while working on the second.
Two days after committing 32 turnovers against Mineral Area, it showed as the Raiders matched their season low of 10 turnovers to beat Lincoln Trail 65-53 at the Bess Activity Center.
Bess now has 1,199 wins in his 45-year career at Three Rivers. He has a chance to become the first coach in college basketball history to earn 1,200 wins Thursday at State Fair, looking to end an eight-game region losing streak.
"I think somebody is telling me how tough it has been all these many years to win as many as we have," Bess said. "We owe this community a lot. This community loves its sports and we are happy to be a contributing part of this community."
The Statesmen, who beat Three Rivers by two points Dec. 11, were more effective on 3-pointers and completed a handful more assists than the Raiders, but were outplayed in nearly every other stat column.
Three Rivers had seven more rebounds, seven fewer turnovers, was plus-8 on points off turnovers and plus-11 on second-chance points. Three Rivers had more points in the paint and off the bench, allowed four free-throw attempts and seven offensive rebounds.
"We just came out and played hard," Three Rivers sophomore Torry Butler said. "We worked the ball like we should. We took smart shots like coach wanted us too and we took our time. We didn't make too many errors or turnovers."
After a lot of back-and-forth action early where neither team led by more than five points, the Raiders took the lead for good with a 12 point run in less than three minutes.
Butler, who had 16 points and eight rebounds, chipped in nine points during the streak, including seven unanswered.
Down a point with just over six minutes left in the first half, Justas Furmanavicius tied it up at the line before Butler got going.
He scored the go-ahead basket, then caught and sank a transition 3 in front of the Statesmen bench. On Lincoln Trail's next trip up the floor, Furmanavicius snared a loose ball and tossed a long pass to Butler, who laid it in without a dribble.
Furmanavicius and Butler scored once more each to put the Raiders ahead 35-24 with 3:40 on the clock.
"I was just playing within myself, just playing hard and running the floor like I should," Butler said.
Furmanavicius led Three Rivers with 17 points on 6-for-7 shooting. His lone miss was a 3-pointer and he added seven rebounds.
In the first matchup, the Raiders were hurt by Mike Brown and Jacoby Roddy, who went for 16 and 12 points, respectively. They combined for 15 of Lincoln Trail's final 17 points and the only elusive basket was on the final possession.
At the Bess Activity Center, they were limited to three points and both shot 1-for-4.
Trey Watkins guarded the point for the Raiders and led the team in playing time with 35 minutes. He also added eight points and six rebounds as he impacted the game most on the defensive end.
"I really liked the way Trey (Watkins) played tonight. Boy, he played hard at times," Bess said. "A lot of people might have not noticed him, but he played through some situations. If everybody would play like that, we would never lose."
Three Rivers led by as much as 18 after a hot start in the second half and maintained at least a 9-point lead the rest of the way.
"I think we are going to compete before this year is over," Bess said. "We really did a great job until about 10 minutes on the clock. We didn't rotate down from the top. We've still got guys who haven't figured that out, but those are things we can correct."
The Raiders hit their final eight free throws and finished 15-for-22 at the line. Lincoln Trail was a paltry 2-for-4 from the charity stripe.
Brian Patterson was the focal point of the Raiders' offense in the opening minutes.
The sophomore forward from Doniphan scored eight of Three Rivers' first 10 points, including a putback and a pair of free throw. The hot start didn't last, though, and Patterson finished with 12 points and five rebounds.