Eagles threepeat

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Last second basket by McClue gives RCS bball three titles in a row


Sports Editor

LAFAYETTE – Kyle McClue knew that the Eagles had won their third state title in a row just a fraction of a second before anyone else.

He knew because he was the one who broke a 59-59 tie with a clutch jumper from about 12-feet out with only three seconds remaining in last Saturday’s Class C championship game against Athens, a basket that gave Reserve Christian their fifth championship out of the last six years.

&#8220I knew it. I knew it right away. I knew it was going in the way it went off my fingers,” said McClue, who scored 12 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter. &#8220After it went in, I was just so happy I wanted to cry.”

The late game dramatics were a necessity for RCS, who won last year’s title with a 40 point victory, as the Eagles got into early foul trouble in the first half of play. The third quarter was no picnic either as the Eagles were outscored 20-12 as they tried to avoid fouling.

That brought it into the fourth quarter with a 42-36 score and Athens in the lead. But RCS turned up the heat with a pressing defense that resulted in a frustrated Trojan offense.

With five minutes to play, and RCS down by nine, the Eagles came on strong.

&#8220The thing about this team is how unselfish they are,” Byrd said. &#8220They know that they’ve got to rely on each other and they trust in that.”

It looked impressive from the start for RCS despite the early fouls. McCain picked up a pair quickly and had to play conservatively after that as his hands were virtually tied.

&#8220It was more about what I couldn’t do out there,” McCain said. &#8220I was being careful not to reach in or pick up another foul.”

But McCain was able to avoid worsening his foul troubles in the second half and fell back on his teammates to help with the scoring. Cedric Jenkins was guarded closely throughout, but that only opened opportunities for other players. McClue helped pick up that slack with a 6-of-11 shooting performance, scoring 15. McCain, the game MVP, earned a game high 24.

The final period was a wild one as RCS closed the gap in the final five minutes and tied the score on a three pointer by Jenkins. Athens looked to have the chance at final possession, but turned the ball over on a five second violation after Chadd Simmons pressed at half court.

That gave Reserve Christian the ball with ten seconds left. Byrd called in a play to get the ball to McCain, with Jenkins as the second option. But Athens guarded the Eagles top two scorers and Jenkins dished the ball to Justin Bernard.

&#8220I was going for the layup,” said Bernard, &#8220but I saw Kyle out there on the right. And I knew he’d make it. That’s one of his best shots, even in practice.”

With the assist, McClue got the ball and put his team ahead with less than two seconds to go. After a quick inbound by Athens, the clock expired, giving Byrd and the Eagles their fifth state title in six years.

&#8220No one expected him to hit that shot, except for the guys on this team” Byrd said.

Asked which game was more fun to be around, this year’s squeaker or last year’s dominant win, Byrd admitted his affinity for a good game.

&#8220This is more fun,” Byrd said of this year’s championship game in contrast to last year’s when they dominated. &#8220We didn’t have a McDonald’s All-American, but we did have a special group of guys.”