RA tops Country Day in District

Published 12:02 am Saturday, February 13, 2016

RESERVE — After winning 17 consecutive district championships in basketball, one would think it would be easy for the Riverside Academy Rebels to win another one.

Riverside Academy’s Malik Crowfield shoots a free throw Monday. The senior finished the evening with 30 points.

Riverside Academy’s Malik Crowfield shoots a free throw Monday. The senior finished the evening with 30 points.

But No. 18 is proving to be a little harder to grab.

On Jan. 22, the Country Day Cajuns upset the three-time defending state champion Rebels, 63-56. On Monday, the Rebels got their revenge, taking an 81-66 win to create a tie for the title.

As soon as the game was over, Riverside coach Timmy Byrd and Cajuns coach Mike McGuire met at mid-court to flip a coin to determine who would be the home team for the rubber match, which will be played Feb. 20 at Rummel — if neither team loses before then.

Byrd said this is the hardest he has had to work for a district championship in quite some time.

“It is,” Byrd said. “We’ve had 17 in a row. One co-champion. (The players) know. They want to be the No. 1 seed going into the playoffs, so they’ve got a lot to play for.”

Despite playing without one of its starters in the first game, Country Day managed  last month to hold off Riverside, especially with Herb McGee Jr. in early foul trouble.

McGee’s production was limited again on Monday (he was held to 5 points), but not Malik Crowfield’s. He led all scorers with 30 points and didn’t even hit a 3-pointer. A pair of bench players stepped up in the meantime. Kash Foley and Garland Robertson both finished with 17 points.

“For us to beat a team like that without Herb and Jared (Butler) having good games says a lot about our team and our young players coming off the bench,” Byrd said. “Garland Robinson was a big difference and so was Cash Foley. They were big in this game.”

The Rebels had to fight for this one. Country Day opened the game with a barrage of 3-pointers to take an early 13-6 lead. A 3-pointer by Foley, another by Robertson and a layup by Jalen Banks helped cut the Cajuns’ lead to 17-14 at the end of the quarter.

Then Riverside took control, outscoring Country Day 12-4 in the first four minutes of the second quarter and 25-12 by the end to take a 39-29 halftime lead.

Country Day never gave up though. Led by Michael Corchiani’s 14 points in the third quarter, the Cajuns began their comeback attempt. With 4:45 remaining in the game, Country Day finally caught up, tying the game at 60 on a 3-pointer by Corchiani.

Ultimately, it was fouls that helped Riverside put the game away. With 4:39 remaining, Foley hit a jumper and was fouled. His 3-point play gave the Rebels a 63-60 lead and they would never trail again. With 3:29 remaining, Foley drove inside for a layup and was fouled again. With 2:56 remaining, Crowfield drove inside for a layup.

After that, the Rebels went 11 of 14 at the free throw line.

Corchiani finished with 28 points for the Cajuns (19-7).

“The thing about Country Day is they’re really good because they play so dadgum hard,” Byrd said. “Corchiani is the heart and soul of their team, which makes everybody on their team so darned good. And Mike McGuire does a great job coaching them. They’re fundamental, they play hard, they can shoot the 3. They’re a tough team to beat.”

In other Monday night action, West St. John broke its seven-game losing streak and avenged an earlier loss by taking a 59-35 win over St. Charles Catholic. The Rams then strung together a two-game winning streak by taking a 70-55 win over Ascension Catholic on Wednesday. Trevon Borne scored 24 points and Amere Oubre added 19.

It is a moral victory of sorts for the Rams, who are mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs. They had won only two games prior to that one and this is their only win in seven District 12-2A games.

“We were overdue for a win,” said first-year coach Alton Joseph. “I thought we should have beat them the first time we played them. We came out kind of timid in the first half. Then we just took advantage of some open opportunities in the second half and got the win at home.”

Borne led the Rams scoring with 21 points. Jermoine Green scored 14 and Oubre scored 11.

St. Charles got 21 points from Jordan Arceneaux and 12 from Jobe Kelly.

In Reserve, East St. John held on to its top spot in District 7-5A play by taking a 67-61 win over Hahnville. Raekwon McKnight led the scoring with 16 points. Troy Green and JaVon Antonio followed with 15 points each.  The Wildcats close out the regular season Friday at Central Lafourche.