Curtis defeats Rebels in district clash

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 28, 2012



RIVER RIDGE — Riverside coach Timmy Byrd hadn’t lost a district game in 13 years, dating back to his days at Reserve Christian; his Rebel players had never lost one, period.

But that all changed Tuesday night, as Malik Morgan scored 25 points to lead second-ranked John Curtis to an 85-66 victory over top-ranked Riverside in a District 10-2A game at Curtis.

The Patriots (19-2, 3-0) led 57-53 after three quarters, Riverside (24-8, 4-1)having whittled down a 12-point Curtis lead established in the first quarter.

But Curtis exploded in the fourth quarter, scoring the first eight points and outscoring Riverside 28-13 in the final frame.

“They just beat us,” said Byrd. “We didn’t play our best game, and Curtis played an outstanding game.”

The Rebels had defeated Curtis on Saturday in a non-district tournament game at the All-State Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic, but Morgan, JCC’s leading scorer, missed all but the early moments of the game after spraining his ankle. Center Dillon Gordon also missed that game.

The foul line told much of the story in this game. Curtis was red hot from the line, making 24 of its 27 free throw attempts. Meanwhile, Riverside remained cold from the line, just as it was in its loss to O. Perry Walker last Friday. RA made just four of its 17 free throw attempts.

Donald Thomas led Riverside with 18 points. Zelvin Smith scored 16 and Ricardo Gathers added 12.

Richard Durant and Issac Banks scored 18 and Malachi Dupre scored 14 to compliment the scoring of Morgan, something Byrd pointed to as another problem for Riverside on Tuesday.

“(Aside from Morgan) we didn’t guard the other guys,” said Byrd. “I thought (Durant, Curtis’ freshman point guard) was really the catalyst for them.”

The Rebels trailed 22-10 after the first quarter and 43-35 at halftime.

The loss potentially sets up a do-or-die scenario much earlier than anyone would have anticipated for Riverside.

Because the Rebels scheduled so many out of state games and it’s slate of in-state opponents fell short of the minimum required by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, Riverside might be in a position where it needs to win its district title to qualify for the postseason at all; the Rebels have picked up extra in-state games, but Byrd said that it isn’t clear whether that will satisfy the LHSAA guidelines.

“It’s still up in the air,” he said.

If RA doesn’t fulfill the minimum, Riverside would have to defeat Curtis in the Feb. 3 rematch at Riverside. , A district championship playoff could be played at a neutral site. A loss in either, in that scenario, could theoretically knock the nationally ranked Rebels out of the postseason picture entirely.

If the Rebels do not hit the in-state requirement, winning both games and the district crown would slot them automatically as the final seed, No. 32. Which, as it stands today would match them up against Class 2A’s top seed on its home floor — John Curtis, which sits comfortably ahead of the field in the power rankings.