Crowfield’s 35 leads way as RA defends 2A championship

Published 7:33 pm Tuesday, March 18, 2014


LAKE CHARLES – For three-and-a-half quarters Saturday, Riverside and Lakeview traded haymakers and body blows, treating fans to a Class 2A championship game that lived up to every bit of the hype of its No. 1 vs. No. 2 billing. 

And in the final five minutes of play, the Rebels finally scored a knockout.

Riverside (34-3) clinched its second consecutive state championship and its 4th crown in five years, outscoring Lakeview 25-14 in the fourth quarter to seal up an 88-75 victory.

Malik Crowfield was named the championship game’s MVP on a night that saw the sophomore guard score a game-high 35 points to go along with 12 rebounds, three steals and four assists.

“I was feeling it,” said Crowfield. “I had a great feeling early today and I just had to come out and do it.”

The 13-point final margin belies the game’s back-and-forth nature. The second half saw six lead changes and eight ties while Lakeview (28-5) led for much of the first half.

“That was a heavyweight fight,” said Riverside coach Timmy Byrd, who captures his 11th state basketball championship as a head coach, the first seven coming with Reserve Christian. “Our kids played their hearts and guts out.”

With five minutes left, Riverside led 70-68 and the Rebels spread the floor, forcing the bigger Gators to come out and guard them. From that point, RA outscored LHS 18-7, including two key 3-point plays by Herb McGee off of drives to the basket. Those made it 75-70 and 79-71 respectively, giving RA complete control with just over a minute remaining.

Lakeview had the upper hand early, taking a 20-14 lead after one quarter. RA point guard Von Julien was whistled for two offensive fouls on drives to the basket and sat for all but 38 seconds of the second quarter. Riverside forward Jordan Andrews also had to sit with foul trouble.

“I knew I had to cheer my teammates on,” said Julien. “I knew they could do anything we needed. Herb (McGee) and Malik had to take charge.”

Crowfield took over offensively to keep the Rebels in the game, canning four 3-pointers and scoring 22 first half points.

“I was mad when Von had to sit,” said Crowfield. “Herb and I took it on ourselves to step up and score.”

Said Lakeview coach Joshua Hancock, “Malik was unbelievable. He shot the lights out … We tried to go with a box and one and then 25 (Andrews) hit one or two and I’m saying ‘Oh Lord, I have to go to a box and two.’ Then all of a sudden somebody else hits one and I said ‘ok, we have to go to a man-to-man.’ They just hit big shots and that changed the momentum.”

Cameron Pottain scored a quick five points to help push Lakeview to a 32-26 lead after Riverside had closed to within one, but Riverside struck quickly to take a halftime lead. McGee drove for a bucket, then Curtis Thomas dished to Crowfield for a layup to make it 33-30. Crowfield then tied the game on a 3 before McGee slashed through for another layup to cap a 9-1 run and make it 35-33 at the half.

“I felt like I had to keep us on the right track,” said McGee. “I went like 0 for 20 from three in the first half, and when my shot’s not falling, Coach always tells me to find another way. That was going to the basket.”

Julien scored 13 points and dished nine assists while Andrews scored 13 and notched a team-high four steals for RA. 

Tay Hardy scored a team-high 15 points for Lakeview. Jerald Bush and Tray Kirkendoll each scored 13 and Cameron Pottain scored 12.

Riverside outrebounded Lakeview 34-30 in the game. 

“That was the key stat,” said Byrd. “I told our guys that if we beat them or matched them on the boards, that we could win without shooting it well.”

The Rebels finished the season on a 28-game winning streak. The team went 10-1 against teams that qualified for the Top 28 tournament this season.

Riverside took a five-point lead in the third quarter, but Bush wouldn’t let Riverside shake free, scoring three times in a row to close the quarter and bring Lakeview within two.

A Deuce Wallace 3 put Riverside ahead 68-66 with 5:49 left and Riverside wouldn’t trail again. After a Bush basket at the other end made it 70-68, Julien kept the ball up high, forcing Lakeview to either defend man-to-man or allow Riverside to let the clock run down. 

Lakeview extended its defense, and Riverside extended its lead. Julien drove down the lane for a layup, then McGee did the same, drawing a foul and making a free throw. 

That made it 75-68. Crowfield answered a Lakeview basket, scoring a layup off of a Wallace assist. 

Then McGee landed a decisive blow, driving for another layup-and-foul to earn a 3-point play, putting RA ahead 80-71 with 1:13 remaining.

With less than a minute remaining, Andrews found himself alone in transition on a steal and landed a left-handed jam to put an exclamation point on the victory.

“I had one like that in our first game and I wanted to finish the year like I began,” said Andrews.

So did Riverside. It began its season with a victory and ended it with one as well, just as every team aspires to do.