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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

TRCC holds off Lewis & Clark for 1,000th win

Monday, November 17, 2003

TRCC's Terrance Smith, (42) grabs a rebound.
POPLAR BLUFF -- Win No. 1,000 was safe in Dereke Tipler's hands.

Tipler was his clutch self down the stretch Saturday night, coming up with one big play after another to help No. 12 Three Rivers escape with an 86-82 victory against Lewis & Clark.

Tipler had four steals in the final minutes and hit six consecutive free throws in the final 22 seconds as the Raiders secured a historic win.

"I know Dereke is going to be there in the clutch," sophomore Derrell Minner said. "That's why they call him Mr. Clutch. I've been around D for about 10 years and I know he'll come through for us."

Tipler finished with a season-high 19 points, six assists and five steals for Three Rivers. Steve Deken and C.J. Hadley added 14 points apiece and Chris Carr scored 13.

The outcome was in question until the final moments.

Lewis & Clark, which led by three at the half, took a 79-78 lead on Robert Aitken's 3-pointer with 55 seconds left. Three Rivers retook the lead on a pair of Chris Carr free throws, then extended the advantage to three when Tipler stole the inbound pass and was fouled.

Aitken missed a potential game-tying 3 on the other end, and Tipler secured the rebound in traffic.

He was immediately fouled and sank two more free throws to make it 84-79.

The Trail Blazers (2-3) again made it a one possession game with a Ross Laux 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left, but Tipler ended the comeback bid with two more clutch free throws.

"I always knew we were going to win, but for a moment I was like, 'Man, we've really got to get some stops or it's going to be a close one,'" Tipler said. "That's what it was."

The victory was the 1,000th in the 37-year history of Three Rivers basketball.

A majority of those wins belong to coach Gene Bess, who is 944-228 in his 34 seasons with the Raiders.

"For this school to win 1,000 games in the length of time we've been in existence is incredible," Bess said.

But Three Rivers (5-0) struggled to remain undefeated. The Raiders, who have trailed at halftime the past three games, gave up a season-high in points and field-goal percentage (59.6).

Opponents had been averaging 60 points per game and were shooting less than 32 percent from the field against Three Rivers.

Bess took the blame for the breakdown.

"I gave these guys a little more credit than I should. I thought we'd come out more ready to play," he said. "I didn't do my job real well. We didn't zero in and really emphasize some things. I just thought they'd do it on their own. I thought they'd take care of it themselves."

Lewis & Clark took an early 24-18 lead before Hadley and Nick Covington connected from downtown on consecutive possessions. The Raiders stayed close in the first half by hitting five of their 12 3-point attempts.

But the Trail Blazers scored eight of the final 12 points of the first half and led 42-39 when Marcus Richardson grabbed a loose ball and beat the buzzer with an off-balance jumper.

The Trail Blazers' lead was its biggest when Laux hit a 3 to make it 50-45 at the 16:27 mark of the second half.

"We weren't ready to play," Tipler said. "I guess everyone on the team thought we were going to come out and run them over. I guess we finally realized everybody is going to get up to play us no matter what their record is."

Three Rivers took its first lead since midway through the first half when freshman Danijel Zoric scored on consecutive possessions to make it 59-58.

The Raiders' lead grew to six when Tipler converted a 3-point play with 7:59 left.

"I was sitting on the bench and I yelled at him to take control of the game," Carr said. "When Dereke's got the ball and he's out there, you know he's going to do everything he can to get that win."

The Raiders still had six-point lead with 2:28 remaining before Lewis & Clark got consecutive baskets to pull within two.

Aitken gave the Trail Blazers the lead two possessions later, but Tipler had an answer.

"I'm always happy with a win, no matter how close or how much we blow an opponent out," Tipler said. "A win is a win. We gutted this one out and were lucky we won. Now we have to come back and work hard."

Moritz Wohlers led four Lewis & Clark players in double figures with 20.

Laux had 17 and Aitken hit four 3s en route to 14 points.

Deken grabbed seven rebounds to go along with his career-high point total.

Minner had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Raiders, who shot 48.4 percent.

Three Rivers' bench outscored the Trail Blazers 35-7.

"I like to be a part of history," Minner said, "but there isn't anything more important than getting back to Hutch and trying to get the No. 1 spot out there."