Published 12:00 am Monday, December 22, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
With time ticking down in regulation in a tie game with Brother Martin, Reserve Christian Coach Timmy Byrd didn’t see anything he liked from the play he called. So he called a time out, and drew up another.
This one was simple — get the ball to All-State guard Cedric Jenkins.
Jenkins delivered as few others could. Rising over three Crusader defenders, Jenkins drilled a 3-pointer from the corner as time expired, and the Eagles advanced to the second round in the Country Day Invitational, 67-64 victors.
“That’s just what big time players do,” said Byrd. “You know, he struggled tonight. Our whole team struggled. They keyed on him, and it wasn’t his best game. But it shows just what a major player he is for us.
“He wanted that ball. He wants to take the big shot at the end.”
Jenkins finished with 20 points to lead the Eagles (18-3).
Brother Martin (6-5) trailed by one with 10 seconds left, but had a one-and-one opportunity at the line. The Crusaders made the first, but missed the second, tying the game but giving Reserve a chance to hold out for the final shot.
“We basically got lucky at the end, there,” said Byrd.
Brother Martin didn’t allow the Eagles a good look, so Byrd called a time out with 2.5 seconds left in the game.
“We just didn’t get what we wanted, so we wanted to reset,” he said.
Jenkins shot allowed Reserve to advance to face St. Augustine, which defeated McDonogh 35, on Friday night. Results for that game, and the rest of the Eagles’ tournament games, will be in the next issue. The tournament champion will have won four games in the 16-team bracket.
Ricardo Gathers scored 13 for Reserve. Chris Roussell scored 10.
Brother Martin’s Schane Rillieux scored 22 to lead all scorers. Patrick Swilling, Jr. scored 18.
Reserve led 33-32 at halftime. The teams were tied at 47 headed into the fourth in what was a tight game all night.
Byrd said it wasn’t his team’s best effort, but also commended his players for finding a way to win a game where it wasn’t at peak performance.
“Brother Martin dominated us on the defensive end. We missed a lot of easy shots. Those frustrate the players, they frustrate the team.
“But sometimes, as a coach, you know you have to win some games where everything isn’t fluid, nights where it seems like nothing goes right. It’s a credit to them that we came away with a win in spite of that.”
The win comes on the heels of the season’s rockiest stretch for Reserve — at least, as rocky of a stretch that a 19-3 defending titlist can have — after losing two of three games at the RCS Invitational.
Byrd says the Eagles are rebuilding their chemistry a bit with players returning from injuries. He also says many of the players are being asked to play outside their comfort zones, in order to become better and more versatile.
But it’s nothing that he expects his team can’t handle — after all, they are coming off of a victory.
“I’m not discouraged. We’ll get it back,” he said. “You just hope these things don’t last long. Hopefully, (Friday) will be that breakout game.”