Eagles fly to third tourney title of year

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2008


Sports Editor

With the season only a month old, there is a long way to go for the Reserve Christian Eagles to achieve their goal of winning all of their tournaments this season.

But they are three-for-three.

The Eagles secured their third tournament title this season with a 66-44 victory over host St. Thomas Aquinas on Wednesday at the STA Invitational.

It was the third tournament that the Eagles have participated in within the past two weeks. Reserve Coach Timmy Byrd says his team battled the fatigue that comes with such a busy schedule.

“I think the kids played through a wall,” said Byrd. “They’re mentally and physically fatigued right now. We’ve played a lot of games in a short time.

“But that’s what makes it a good win for us. With a young team, learning how to play when you don’t want to play is how you start building character. You learn how to rely on other things besides physical talent to win.”

Reserve (15-1) went 3-0 in the six-team tourney, defeating Slidell and St. Stanislaus (MS) earlier in the week. Albany and Covington also took part.

Ed Gallina scored 15 points to lead all scorers in the final game. He was named tournament MVP after averaging 15 points a game.

“He’s adapting to the speed of the game, not thinking as much as he was,” said Byrd. “He’s 6’5, long, and can play all five positions. Really, not only is it good to see him gain confidence, but also to see the team gain confidence in him — he’s earned that.”

Cedric Jenkins, who was named to the all-tournament team, scored 11 for RCS. Derek Taylor added 10.

Reserve led 14-7 after a quarter against STA, but the Eagles couldn’t quite put the Falcons away through three quarters, entering the fourth up 47-36.

“In the second quarter we played like we were tired,” Byrd said. “We didn’t really get it going until late in the third.”

Indeed, the fourth quarter belonged to Reserve. It outscored STA 19-8 in the final period.

Most importantly to Byrd, the team understood when to pull back and manage the clock, something it failed to do a week prior in its lone loss to Christian Life.

“The kids are learning how to take care of the ball, about time and possession,” Byrd said. “In the last three minutes, we ran our four-corners offense really well, shortening the game, burning the clock. The more we play, the more efficient we’re getting at it.”

On Tuesday, Reserve topped Slidell 68-62 behind 20 points from Gallina and 14 from Ricardo Gathers.

Reserve led by only two at halftime, 36-34, but outscored the Tigers (1-3) 20-10 in the third quarter to seize the advantage.

Faced with undefeated St. Stanislaus (5-0) on Monday, the Eagles did a similar job after trailing 12-10 after a quarter. Reserve outscored the opposition 40-22 in the next two quarters, and held on from there for a 68-54 win.

Four Eagles did the damage — Jenkins scored 19, Chris Roussell scored 12, Louis Dabney scored 11 and Gallina chipped in 10.

St. Stanislaus’ Daniel Grieves led all scorers with 26 points.