Stars to come out at RCS Tourney

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Sports Editor

If you’re a hoops junkie, there will be no shortage of action for you over the next three days.

Four defending state champions and a host of top contenders and elite prospects are going to be compete at the Reserve Christian Invitational, beginning tomorrow.

St. Thomas Aquinas will kick things off against Hahnville will kick the eight team tournament off at 5 p.m.

The Tigers are one of three teams from the River Parishes will take part, along with host Reserve Christian and East St. John.

The tournament will be a straight bracket, highlighted by four teams in the midst of a state championship defense: Reserve Christian, which has won four consecutive state championships in Class B and C; St. Thomas Aquinas, the two-time Class 2A champions; Christian Life (BR), the three-time defending Class 1A champions; and Christian Life (Houston, TX), two-time defending Class 2A champion in Texas.

Along with those teams are four other strong teams, including Class 5A contenders — and rivals — ESJ and Hahnville, Carencro and Kashmere (TX)

“The good thing about this tournament is that there are no easy games,” said Reserve Coach Timmy Byrd, whose Eagles (16-1) are slated to face Carencro at 8 p.m. on Thursday. “It should be just about the most competitive tournament in the state.”

Each team has at least one key player to watch. Christian Life (BR) is led by two-time All-State Langston Galloway, considered by many as the top junior prospect in Louisiana. STA is headed by two-time All-State guard Ramone Andrews. Locals are very familiar with Reserve’s own All-State representative, the sweet-shooting Cedric Jenkins, who is also a two-time selection. And Christian Life (TX) brings Junior Cadougan, a Marquette signee considered to be one of the 10 best prep point guards in the country.

In other words, many of the best will be going head to head.

Byrd believes each of the first round games has the potential to be a “barnburner,” but points to the matchup between Christian Life (BR) and Christian Life (TX) as the highlight of the first round.

“I think that’s the premier matchup,” said Byrd. “Christian Life (BR) is a three-time state champion. And (CLA-TX) is coming in with 12 Division I prospects, overwhelmingly loaded with talent. It should be a real chess match between the coaches. I’m not sure how it will play out.”

The Eagles may have to go into play without its center, 6’6 Ricardo Gathers, who has missed time recently due to injury. He will be a gametime decision on Thursday.

But with or without Gathers, one of Reserve’s goals this year was to win every one of the tournaments that it participates in this season.

If the Eagles can notch this one, it may be smooth sailing.

“No doubt, I don’t think we’ll play in a tougher tournament,” Byrd said. “This will be really difficult. We’ll go in and fight with what we have, and be confident that we will win.

“But even if we were to go in and lose three straight, we’ll still be a better team for playing that exceptional level of competition.”