Riverside defends Sugar Bowl crown
Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, January 7, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
LAPLACE — Riverside and University Lab treated fans to an epic Class 2A semifinal last season. Their first rematch proved no different.
Just as they did last March, the Rebels edged a game Cubs squad, this time taking a 57-54 victory in the championship game of the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic at the Alario Center Saturday.
The reigning 2A state champions successfully defended their Sugar Bowl tournament championship after the school earned the honor for the first time last season.
“It seemed of our top seven guys or so, each made a big play that resulted in this win,” said Riverside coach Timmy Byrd. “It was a great high school basketball game.’
“It’s very satisfying. We played a group of really good teams and won four tough games in a row. When you look at the roster of teams in this tournament, like Landry-Walker, Country Day, St. Thomas More, Higgins … good teams, hot teams. We were able to emerge.”
Jordan Andrews was named the tourney’s Most Valuable Player after scoring a game-high 17 points in the championship game.
“This should do a lot for his confidence,” said Byrd. “He did a really good job guarding their big guys, and he made some critical shots on the offensive end.”
Riverside (13-3) downed University 64-62 in overtime in the Class 2A semifinal round.
Von Julien scored 10 points for the Rebels and Malik Crowfield and Herb McGee each added nine. Joe Anderson scored eight.
University big men led the way as Wayde Sims scored 19 and D.J. White 18.
Andrews came up big in the clutch Saturday. He sank two key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and a late putback pushed Riverside ahead 56-52.
Sims made a layup of his own to pull University within two with 2.5 seconds left to play. U-High fouled McGee on the inbounds, and he sank one of two free throws with 1.4 seconds left. Sims’ desperation heave from the backcourt came up empty to seal the win for Riverside.
Riverside led 46-42 entering the fourth quarter, but University fought back to lead by three late in the game, 50-47. A Crowfield 3 tied things up and sparked what turned out to be a game-deciding 7-0 run.
“They kinda had the game in hand,” said Byrd. “It seemed like at the end of every quarter, we’d be struggling. It seemed that with about a minute and 30 left, we made several plays in a row. Malik made a big 3, then dove for a loose ball for another key play.”
Byrd said that the Rebels went into a box-and-one defense late to contain University point guard Skylar Mays — with Sims and White doing damage inside, the Rebs opted to attack the Cubs’ distributor.
“We made it difficult for them to get into their offense,” said Byrd. “Von did an excellent job on (Mays). Their big men were playing well, but (Sims) is the guy who gets them into their sets. They struggled in their halfcourt sets down the stretch.”
He said that U-High’s size made things difficult for the Rebels in the first half.
“They were getting a lot of layups in transition. They were dictating tempo,” said Byrd. “They made us play their game.”
University dropped to 12-3.
The Rebels have now won eight consecutive games, including wins over Curtis, East St. John and Landry-Walker at the Holy Cross tournament two weeks ago.
“This team is so much more physical than last year,” said Byrd. “This is a very tough team.”
RIVERSIDE DOWNS NORTHSIDE, ST. THOMAS MORE — Earlier on Saturday, the Rebels bested Northside (10-6) in the Sugar Bowl semifinal, 49-44
Andrews scored 13 to lead the Rebels. Joe Anderson added 10.
Gerard Andrus led Northside with 15 points.
In the tournament’s second round on Friday, Riverside blew by St. Thomas More (15-3), 72-43.
McGee scored 12 and Julien scored 10 for Riverside, which outscored STM 45-23 in the second half.
Trey Touchet led STM with 16 points.