Leading by a point with under 90 seconds to play, the Three Rivers women's basketball team got a pair of defensive stops Tuesday night. Then the Lady Raiders survived the final 15 seconds for a wild 73-72 win over John A. Logan College at the Bess Activity Center. "We made plays," Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk said. "We made plays on both sides of the basketball down the last minute. "Great teams do that, they find a way to win." Kahliya Murry got a defensive rebound for the Raiders (10-2) with 1:13 to play and DeNayia Holmes later picked off a pass near the sideline, sprinted upcourt and found Lakeita Chappel with a pass leading to a three-point play for a 72-68 lead. "It was huge," said freshman Hailee Erickson of the steal by Holmes. "She's quite the player." Logan's Johnecia Kyles was fouled on a putback for a three point play with 15.5 seconds remaining and Erickson was immediately sent to the foul line where the freshman sank her first shot but missed the second. Logan (6-2) got the ball to the post where Destiny Cozart was fouled with 5.7 seconds on the clock. The sophomore's first free throw hit the back of the rim but her second cut the margin to a point. After using their final timeout to advance the ball to midcourt, the Raiders threw away the inbounds pass. Given a last chance, Logan gave the ball to Cozart who got off a 3-pointer at the buzzer that missed the mark. "It's a big boost for us," said Erickson who scored 15 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with just under 4 minutes to play. "We've just got to be ready for this weekend." Holmes also scored 15 points to lead the Raiders and had five assists and five rebounds. Chappel hit half of her shots for 11 points but picked up her fourth foul midway through the fourth quarter before returning in the final 2 minutes. Markeia Porter chipped in eight points and a team-high 12 rebounds while Catera Sawyers and Alex Kohler each had eight points.
Cozart was one of three Volunteers with 13 points but Logan shot 36 percent from the field. A plus-17 advantage on rebounds led to 29 second-chance points and kept pace with Three Rivers. There were four ties and 14 lead changes with neither team leading by more than nine after the Lady Raiders opened the game with a 13-4 run. "I knew right then it was going to be a long night because I've seen teams jump out like that and all of a sudden go cold," Walk said. Logan caught up at 17- all and led 22-18 heading into the second quarter. The lead changed hands five times over the final 3:18 of the half with a last-second runner by Sawyers giving Three Rivers a 33-32 lead at the break. Sawyers answered one of Logan's two 3-pointers with one of her own to start a 12-2 Raider run midway through the third quarter. Kohler's 3 with 2:27 left in the third put the Lady Raiders up 51-43 but they didn't get another field goal over the next four-plus minutes. Logan surged ahead with a 13-0 run, tying it at 51-all heading into the fourth then leading 56-51 on a 3 by Alicia Hornbuckle with 8:43 to play. A three-point play by Holmes and two free throws 30 seconds later allowed the Lady Raiders to catch up midway through the quarter. "Lot of teams just fold up," Walk said. "These kids keep surprising me on how they do things, how they approach the game." The Raiders, who beat Logan in overtime on the road last season, are in the middle of finals this week. They travel to Crowder College to play Eastern Oklahoma State on Friday before a rematch Saturday with Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, which handed Three Rivers its last loss on Nov. 17.
Brian Rosener - Daily American Republic