Arena: Rebels were best of best in 2014-15

Published 11:45 pm Friday, March 20, 2015

To say the Riverside Academy boys basketball team simply won the Class 2A state championship this season almost seems to sell the Rebels short.

Clearly, the hoops state crown is nothing new to our region, not anymore since Timmy Byrd started his run at Reserve Christian. We’re now at 12 and counting, the last five of those coming at Riverside, cementing the Rebels as a true (red and) blue dynasty on the hardwood.

But when you look at Riverside’s 30-6 record, it only tells part of the tale. This team, essentially, proved itself as the champion of champions in Louisiana, felling the Class 5A, 4A and 3A champions decisively and going a perfect 27-0 in state competition.

I admittedly had a feeling this would be one of Byrd’s finer teams even before this season, simply because it was going to be the third season with its core group starting together.

But when it defeated Scotlandville in just its second game of the season, I knew we were in for a treat. Scotlandville was fresh off a string of Class 5A state title game appearances and went on to win it again this season. It had played a string of games by the time the two teams played early this season; for Riverside, it was the first test in a late start to the season, many of the players fresh off the football field and not yet in basketball shape. RA controlled the game throughout, winning by 11 ultimately.

Von Julien was the floor general. Jordan Andrews was the do-it-all stretch four. Herb McGee expanded his game from primary defensive stopper to, more often than not, primary scorer. Malik Crowfield was the most explosive scorer. Joe Anderson was the muscle.

I wasn’t blessed to see the Tweety Carter RCS Eagles in my tenure here. But in my opinion, this was the best team Byrd’s had since I’ve been sports editor at L’OBSERVATEUR. They didn’t have the size of the Ricardo Gathers-led teams, but this group could spread the floor with five shooters while sacrificing little defensively.

The Riverside champions of 2014 and 2013 could defend capably; this team was suffocating when it locked in. Its team rebounding was superb. Zoning them resulted in a flood of 3-pointers, while playing man against them was serving up the paint on a silver platter.

Congratulations to the Rebels. Last Saturday was a victory that was more than well-deserved.