Cedric Jenkins led RCS with 21 pointsCLA is considered the top private school in Texas, and boasts five players at 6-8 or taller. The roster is stacked with Division I college prospects.
Byrd’s Reserve Christian team missed an opportunity to play Christian Life a year ago when it was eliminated from its own tournament by Hahnville in the opening round.
Suffice to say, it was worth the wait.
“It’s very enjoyable to win a game when you’re the heavy underdog, as we were tonight,” said Byrd after the game. “I really think our team goes to another level with this win.”
Cedric Jenkins led all scorers with 21. Ricardo Gathers scored 17, and Ed Gallina added nine.
David Pukis led CLA (13-2) with 20.
Christian Life jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first quarter and led 20-11 entering the second.
But the Rebels (9-2) fought back to take a 29-26 lead at halftime despite being largely without Gathers – the 6-7 Rebel big man sat nearly the entire first half after picking up two quick fouls.
The Rebels extended the lead to six entering the fourth quarter. With Riverside leading by three late, it turned up the defensive intensity while drawing fouls at the other end. Gathers and Jenkins combined to go 8-of-9 at the line in the closing minutes to ice the game.
Byrd credited guards Kyle McClue and Jenkins with controlling the tempo and making CLA play a halfcourt contest.
“I think our guards are the best in the state. To me, they proved it tonight,” said Byrd.
Though RA was the smaller team by far, Byrd said he wasn’t willing to get into a running game with CLA, whose big men were also highly adept in transition.
“These aren’t big, clumsy guys,” said Byrd. “They get a ton of easy buckets in transition, and they score a lot on second and third chance opportunities. We didn’t give those up tonight.”
He also was quick to point out the job that Gathers and Gallina did on the CLA big men.
“They’re huge, experienced, intimidating, and they’re not used getting beat,” said Byrd. “Our guys just played the way we’re accustomed to them playing, without worrying about who was the opponent.”
Courtesy of the L'Observateur