Riverside comes up short in basketball state finals

Published 6:53 pm Saturday, March 12, 2016

LAKE CHARLES – The Riverside Academy reign came to an end Saturday afternoon.

Madison Prep, last year’s Class 1A state champion and the No. 1 seed in this year’s Class 2A bracket, effectively shut down the Rebels to take a 41-33 victory and deny Riverside its fourth consecutive state championship.

“It was not a typical game,” Riverside coach Timmy Byrd said, aptly summing up Saturday’s final played at Burton Coliseum on the campus of McNeese State University.

The normally hot-shooting Rebels picked the worst day of the year to go cold, shooting 28.2 percent from the field and a woeful 18 percent from 3-point range.

The team was 8 of 28 in 3-point goals. Herb McGee led the scoring with 14 points, and was 4 of 9 from 3-point range. Malik Crowfield scored 13 points with three 3-pointers. No other Rebels player reached double figures and only two others – Jalen Banks and Jared Butler – scored at all. Both finished with 3 points.

“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Byrd said.

Madison Prep had much to do with that. The Chargers used a swarming defense to shut down the Rebels, forcing 20 turnovers – 12 in the first half. Madison Prep held the Rebels to one basket by Jalen Banks in the third quarter. Really, the Chargers frustrated Riverside all afternoon, forcing the Rebels to fight through each possession, shortening the court and cutting off the passing lanes.

“They’re the first team to really, pretty much shut us down like that,” Byrd said.

Saturday’s loss capped Riverside’s streak of three straight Class 2A state titles. The game was the lowest-scoring Class 2A final in Top 28 history. The Rebels had the lowest point total by a single team and their 2 points scored in the third quarter were the fewest scored by any single team in a quarter.

Still, Byrd and his players searched for the positives.

“We’re blessed to be here, even in defeat,” Byrd said. “We have nothing to be ashamed of.”