Rebels take down top-ranked foe

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 10, 2012



It was a most welcome feeling of Déjà vu for Riverside on Saturday, particularly for point guard Lucas Martin.

Much like the team’s one-point victory two nights before against Brother Martin, it was an offensive rebound and putback effort by the Rebels’ senior that led to the deciding points in a 57-55 win at Scotlandville Saturday night.

He gathered in his own miss in the lane and converted the offensive board into points with 44 seconds left Saturday, and helped key a pair of key defensive stops in the game’s final minute.

Against Brother Martin, it was his offensive rebound and putback attempt that drew a foul and allowed him to go to the line to sink the winning free throws.

“He’s starting to play like we know he can,” said Riverside coach Timmy Byrd. “He’s had a really good high school career. But our expectations for him are high, and we want him to play at a high level all of the time. He’s starting to do it. Against the top teams we face, he’s especially key for us, with Louis (Dabney) down.”

He finished with 13 points on 7 for 8 shooting. RA’s Ricardo Gathers led all scorers with 23 points while adding 15 rebounds. Kahlea Turner scored 10 for the Rebels (13-5).

Damien Jones led the Hornets with 17 points.

Scotlandville (15-2) entered the game as the top-ranked team in Class 5A and, like Riverside, was ranked nationally within the top 25 of MaxPreps. It was considered to be a clash between the state’s two best teams.

“It was a gut check for our kids,” said Byrd. “They’ve been exhausted, injured … they hit the wall but they gave maximum effort and beat a team some people felt was the best in the state. They gave all they had in the tank.”

The game’s exciting finish belied a Riverside effort that saw the Rebels lead throughout and by as many as 14. A late Scotlandville surge almost made it for naught, though, and the Hornets tied the game with two minutes left in the fourth quarter.

The Rebels outrebounded a Scotlandville that can boast three players at 6-foot-9 across its front line.

Of course, Riverside’s front court hardly hurts for size and ability, even after a twisted ankle knocked forward Zelvin Smith out in the game’s early moments. At 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-9 respectively, Gathers and Turner each made a big impact. Turner, the top-ranked eighth grade prospect in the nation by most publications, has seen sporadic playing time this year on a senior-laden club, but Byrd said his play was strong in the absence of Smith and guard John Lewis.

“Rico set the tone tonight, and Khalea Turner really played well,” said Byrd.