Rebels make short work of Runnels in quarters

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, March 10, 2015


RESERVE — Riverside coach Timmy Byrd admitted Friday night represented perhaps the worst shooting night of the season for his Rebels, the top seed in Class 2A that had just hosted Runnels in a quarterfinal game.

And that’s truly frightening.

While the 3-ball didn’t fall, the Rebels still dominated the action against the No. 8 seed, a 41-point second quarter paving the way for a 92-57 victory, officially punching the ticket to a sixth straight Top 28 tournament appearance for Riverside. There, Riverside will face fifth-seeded North Caddo in a semifinal game.

Malik Crowfield scored 24 points, Herb McGee scored 22 and Jordan Andrews scored 17 to lead Riverside (28-6), still undefeated against in-state competition.

Continuing a trend of suffocating defensive stretches, Riverside held Runnels scoreless for the first 7:18 of play, and despite its own early shooting woes, held a 12-2 lead after the first quarter.

“It’s the playoffs, and everyone’s intensity goes to another level,” said McGee. “On defense, we pick up the physicality. We create a lot of offense from our defense.”

From there, RA slammed the door — hard. After Runnels’ Grant Welch socked a jumper from the top of the key to make it 14-7, Crowfield answered with his own 3, followed by another by Andrews, then another by Crowfield to make it 23-10.

Those 3s ignited a 21-3 run. Julien scored off a steal, then sank two free throws.

McGee scored off another steal, then another takeaway led to a Julien layup, making it 31-10.

That prompted a Runnels (19-13) timeout, but Riverside seemed to press even more relentlessly. Andrews and McGee each scored in a matter of seconds off two more steals, making it 35-10.

Making matters worse for the Raiders was that Crowfield had found his groove, offensively. He sank another 3, then scored back-to-back baskets, one of which a thunderous transition jam. He uncharacteristically missed two technical foul free throws, then immediately made up for it by cashing in a 3 from the wing.

“Malik had a really big second quarter,” Byrd said. “He hit a string of 3s, we were able to set up our defense and run whenever we had the opportunity. (Friday) was probably the worst we’ve shot the ball, but you always like to see your team win like this and  show the ability to do it in a different way.”

McGee closed RA’s second quarter scoring with a bucket, and Riverside led 51-14 at halftime.  

The 35-point margin represented Runnels’ worst loss of the season.

“We pressured them and made them work hard for 94 feet,” Byrd said.

“It was just intense, hard defense. Especially in the first half, our defense was really suffocating.”