The third time was not the charm in Paw Paw Friday night for the Three Rivers girls basketball team.
For the third time this season, Edwardsburg parlayed defensive intensity into offensive execution, claiming the Class B district championship in the process with a 44-28 victory over the Lady Cats.
“We knew we were going to have to rebound the basketball real well, play well in the half court and make some special plays,” Three Rivers coach Jason Bingaman said. “We were able to hang around a little bit, but we just weren’t able to get consecutive good looks.
“A lot of that had to do with their pressure, a lot of that had to do with us not getting to spots we needed to, consistently, and they were able to make plays.”
Three Rivers (19-4) turned the ball over on its first three possessions of the game, and Edwardsburg assumed a lead it would never relinquish.
The Eddies turned nine first-quarter turnovers by Three Rivers into eight points and held a 13-6 lead after eight minutes had elapsed.
With a suffocating 2-3 zone defense that made it virtually impossible for Three Rivers to work the ball inside, Edwardsburg (21-1) scored the first eight points of the second quarter.
Three Rivers was sparked by freshman Alivia Knapp midway through the second quarter. Knapp came off the bench and scored seven straight points to fuel a 12-2 run, but Edwardsburg took a 25-16 lead at halftime.
Enter Kaitlyn Zarycki.
The Edwardsburg junior standout scored 10 of her game-high 20 points during the third quarter and the Eddies extended their lead to 37-24 heading into the final eight minutes.
Three Rivers opened the fourth quarter with five straight missed floor shots and Edwardsburg played keep-away for a good portion of the final frame after opening with seven unanswered points.
“We had some chances in the third quarter,” Bingaman added. “We just weren’t able to capitalize on a couple of possessions and they were able to keep us at bay.”
Freshman Kali Heivilin scored a team-high nine point and grabbed a co-team-high eight rebounds for Three Rivers. Knapp finished with seven points, while senior Tessa Hawkins and sophomore Hadley Miller each chipped in with five. Junior Alaina Abnet rounded out the scoring for the Lady Cats with two points.
Three Rivers shot 32.4 percent from the field (12 of 37) and outrebounded Edwardsburg by a 31-26 margin. Junior Diamond Carter grabbed eight rebounds and Miller collected six caroms.
Sophomore Abbey Krugh complemented Zarycki’s offensive performance with 15 points of her own, and Edwardsburg shot 33.3 percent afield (14 of 42).
Three Rivers 6 10 8 4 — 28
Edwardsburg 13 12 12 7 — 44
Recap by Bill Templeton