After making it rain 3-pointers in the first quarter, the Riverside Rebels did just enough to collect a win.
Jared Butler scored 21 points, Jeremiah Bingham added 18 and Riverside defeated the St. Thomas More Cougars 69-60 to win the Sophie B. Wright Tournament of Champions.
Though winning a tournament early in the season is always a good thing, Rebels coach Timmy Byrd said his team still has a long way to go if they want to compete for a state title this year.
“Overall, I’m pleased with us winning the tournament this early in the season,” he said. “But we’ve got a lot of work to do. We need to improve everything. We’re not in basketball shape. We had too many turnovers. We’re not blocking out. At times we’re not playing team basketball. Every phase of the game we’ve got to get better.”
Butler, the tournament MVP, agreed with his coach’s assessment.
“Winning feels great,” he said. “It feels great to get a good start to the season and win a tournament. We need to improve in everything for sure but we’re going to take it one game at a time and get better at everything. I just can’t wait to see just how good this team can be at the end of the year so I’m excited.”
As for St. Thomas More, coach Danny Broussard was optimistic about his team going the rest of the season.
“I’m really proud of our kids,” he said. “We got down early big time they had a barrage of 3’s. Riverside just has a lot of shooters that are hard to match up with. But man, they had 25 points when I called a timeout with a minute 25 seconds left in the first quarter. That’s a lot of points.
"I told our guys to just keep battling and we took a one-point lead at halftime after we were down by 14, so I’m really proud of their effort. Riverside hit some more shots in the second half because they’re a hard guard for us. They’re a tough matchup for us, but this is a great tournament for our kids. I just got our football guys back, and we’re really excited about what the future is going to hold for this team.”
The Rebels drained five 3-pointers behind Bingham and Butler’s effort and lead 25-11 after one quarter.
In the second quarter, the Cougars clawed back behind Johnathan Cisse, who scored 14 of his 23 points in the quarter. The Cougars led 33-32 lead at halftime.
The Rebels regained the lead in the third quarter, building up a 51-43 lead and continued their strong play in the fourth.