Archers head coach Randy Reed has maintained throughout the year that his team was poised to play its best basketball in the final weeks of the season.
Though his team was unable to hold off a talented Three Rivers Community College team in a 78-62 loss on Wednesday, there was enough evidence to suggest Reed’s assertion may be accurate.
Wednesday’s loss featured an early eight-point lead midway through the first half, one that whittled away to an eventual six-point halftime deficit. The Archers remained competitive until the final three minutes, when Three Rivers closed the game with a 10-2 run to seal the victory.
“I think we got better, and we managed to give Three Rivers a challenge today,” Reed said. “I think we gained a little respect today.”
For much of the season, the Archers’ successes often have relied disproportionately on the team’s ability to shoot from beyond the 3-point arc. That trend may have undergone a change Wednesday, as the team was able to rely on freshman forward Joe Henderson for consistent contributions in the paint. Henderson collected a double-double with a team-high 21 points and 11 rebounds.
“He’s really developed and he’s starting to hit those chip shots,” Reed said. “I can draw up plays to get him the ball all day. Today, he showed a soft touch and really matched up well against Three Rivers’ big men.”
Up next for the Archers (11-14 overall, 2-2 Region XVI) will be Lindenwood-Belleville’s junior varsity on Feb. 16, before the team will conclude the regular season with regional games against Wentworth Military Academy (Feb. 17) and Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley (Feb. 21).
After a difficult start to regional play, the Archers have suddenly placed themselves in contention for the top seed in the regional tournament, which will be played Feb. 26-28 at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Mo.
“That’s my main focus,” Reed said of the upcoming regional tests. “This is something to get us better, a statement game. But those games, the regional games, they’re going to mean a lot.”