Rebels set for rematch with University Lab

Published 11:45 pm Friday, March 1, 2013



RESERVE — Riverside put together its best performance of the season Tuesday night against John Curtis. Today, it hopes for an encore performance.

The Rebels are set to face University Lab in a Class 2A semifinal game at Southeastern’s University Center in Hammond. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

The third-seeded Rebels and second-seeded Cubs have faced one another before, with Riverside shocking U-High 72-44 at University on Jan. 11.

University (31-2) hasn’t lost since then. The Cubs have won 12 straight, including an 84-76 win over Lakeview in the quarterfinals and a 46-32 win over Dunham in the regional.

Riverside (25-5) conversely is 9-2 since then, with only losses to Istrouma, a Class 4A semifinalist, and John Curtis, who Riverside defeated in Tuesday’s quarterfinal.

“The toughest team to play against is a talented team you beat badly,” said Byrd. “They’re a much better team now than they were. The good thing for us is that we’re a much better team than we were.”

This time, University will have the services of Jalen Johnson, a 6-foot-6 freshman forward that missed the first meeting with an injury.

He will pair with fellow 6-foot-6 frontcourt force Wayde Sims to provide a pairing that will seek to exploit a smaller, guard-centric Rebel team. Sims scored 35 points to lead University to its quarterfinal win over Lakeview.

Byrd said that slowing Sims will be the biggest key in his team’s ability to advance to a fourth consecutive Class 2A championship game.

“We did a solid job against him the first time,” said Byrd. “We can’t let him have a big night.

“They’re a halfcourt team that wants to play inside-out and let Sims score or facilitate.”

Sims scored 11 points in the first meeting between the teams. He also blocked six shots.

Henry Shortess, a high-percentage marksman from the outside, is who Byrd feels might be University’s most dangerous player after Sims.

Riverside used a box-and-one against Shortess in the first game, with McGee shadowing the 14 PPG scorer.

“Their win over Dunham was close before (Shortess) blew it open in the fourth,” said Byrd.

The Rebels bring a balanced, high-scoring attack into today’s game. All five of the team’s starters average double-figure scoring, led by Malik Crowfield’s 17 points per game.

Von Julien (8), Herb McGee (6) and Malik Crowfield (5) top the team in assists per game, and four Rebels shoot over 34-percent from the 3-point arc (Crowfield, McGee, Cory Costanza and Jordan Andrews).