Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Sports Editor

Add another chapter to the Reserve Christian dynasty.

Last year, Reserve survived a stiff challenge from Athens in the Class C championship game.

This year, faced with the Trojans again, the Eagles left nothing to chance.

Cedric Jenkins scored 33 points and Eddren McCain notched a triple double as Reserve routed Athens on its way to a fourth consecutive state championship, winning 92-48.

“I just want to say that I love coaching these kids,” said Reserve Coach Timmy Byrd. “They are why I do this.

“This was arguably the best game that we’ve ever played in the Top 28 final.”    

It is Reserve’s sixth state championship in the past seven seasons, the last three coming in Class C.

It is the first time a team has won three straight state titles since Atlanta pulled off the feat from 1995-1997.

Reserve (40-9) needed a jumper from then-freshman Kyle McClue to survive Athens with a 61-59 win in the final game a year ago. But this time, the Eagles would not be taken by surprise.

“That was everything to us,” said McCain of the team’s prior experience with Athens (30-9). “I knew just from watching them play Atlanta in the semifinals that they were still pretty good.

“But we prepared very well for this game. Really, preparation is so important, it’s almost everything.”

Jenkins, who also had 11 rebounds and four steals,  was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player.

Byrd said that he had told Jenkins, the team’s scoring leader, to not “fall in love with the 3-pointer” before the game.

But in the midst of Jenkins 8-14 perimeter shooting run throughout the game, Byrd couldn’t help but give him the greenest light possible.

“He’s hit 10 3’s before, 13 3’s in a game,” said Byrd. “Once he’s in that zone, he’s locked in. Once we knew he felt it, we wanted him to focus on the 3.”

Said Jenkins: “I got hot. And I have to credit Eddren, he kept feeding the hot hand. He’s the reason I was able to relax out there. He’s our leader.”

For McCain, a senior who has been the team’s starting point guard for the last three championship seasons, the game symbolized the type of unselfish player he’s been throughout his career. He scored 17, had 10 rebounds and 12 assists, yet another triple-double in a year in which he averaged one.

“We think he’s the best point guard in the state, and the second best player in the state, only behind Greg Monroe,” said Byrd of McCain, who was the Most Outstanding Player of the Class C final last year.  

Reserve scored the first eight points of the game before Athens’ Devarious Critton made a basket and a foul shot for the Trojans first points of the game.

Reserve led 19-10 after a quarter, but the game would not remain in doubt much longer.

Lucas Martin, Chris Roussell, and Jenkins each made jumpers to extend Reserve’s lead to 27-12 early in the second quarter.

Reserve led 39-20 at halftime, and outscored Athens 22-14 in the third quarter to effectively finish the Trojans off.

The Eagle defense was virtually airtight. Athens shot 23% from the field, and rarely could get to the rim.

“Lucas and Cedric caused havoc on the wings,” said Byrd. “And if you can keep people away from the basket, it’s very tough to shoot in this arena.”

(See RCS, Page 8A)

Unlike most of his teammates, the championship was the first for Martin, an eighth-grader who quickly earned substantial playing time in the Reserve rotation this year.

Martin scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds, after a semifinal game where he was held to four points and five rebounds.

“I was real nervous in the semifinals,” Martin said. “I came out strong today. I played it like it would be my last game.”

Chris Roussell scored 11 and added 10 rebounds for Reserve.

Reserve dominated in the paint, outscoring Athens near the basket 44-6.

Athens Coach Marcus Jackson said that a big difference between the teams was the defending champions’ confidence level.

“They’ve certainly got a swagger, a great deal of confidence, and they walk around with it,” he said. “They should be confident.

“They’ve got good leaders in McCain and Jenkins. Those guys are terrific. They can play for any team, at any level. Reserve could compete in any classification out there.”