Edna Karr’s boys basketball team was close to playing exactly the game it wanted to play in order to take down Riverside, but close wasn’t quite enough.
After trailing for the majority of the game, the Rebels (12-3) made a late charge to overtake the Cougars and walk away with a 60-57 win to claim the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic for the third time in the past four years at the Alario Center on Saturday night.
With the win, Riverside extends its win streak to 12 games and capped its fifth trip to the championship round of the tournament in its six-year existence.
“The fans got their money’s worth tonight, that’s for sure,” Riverside coach Timmy Byrd said. “Karr did a magnificent job. They are a great team and they really took it to us.
“When winning time came, our guys just found a way to get it done.”
Riverside knocked off Karr 76-52 in the championship of the Country Day Tournament, and it was obvious the Cougars came in with a mission to make up for the team’s most one-sided loss of the season.
Riverside guard Jared Butler, who was named tournament MVP, ended the game 20 points and four assists. Herb McGee had 11 points, five rebounds and five assists and Malik Crowfield added 10 points and six rebounds. Both were named to the All-tournament team.
“We’ve got a really good team, honestly, and anybody could’ve gotten the MVP,” said Butler, the third different Riverside player to win a tournament MVP this year. “We play together and love each other, so it doesn’t matter who gets MVP.”
The Cougars controlled the game for the first three quarters, but Riverside finally got things going offensively in the fourth and slowly crept its way back into the game.
After making one of his first seven 3-pointers in the game, Butler drilled three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and swung the momentum in the Rebels’ favor.
Crowfield’s four-point play gave Riverside it’s first lead of the game with 4:50 left in the game at 51-50, but Karr wouldn’t give in.
Riverside led 58-57 with 11 seconds left, but Crowfield snatched away a Karr inbounds pass and called a timeout before going out-of-bounds. McGee knocked in two free throws to expand the Rebels’ lead to 60-57, and Karr guard Tyree Thompson’s half-court heave hit the from of the rim as time expired.
“This win says a lot about our program and how we always find a way to pull it out,” McGee said. “It was an ugly win, but we got the win.”
Karr jumped out to a 7-0 lead over Riverside to start Saturday’s game and utilized its tenacious defense to hold onto that lead for the rest of the first half.
After giving up 45 first-half points the first time the two teams met, the Cougars held Riverside to 26 percent shooting from the field in the first half and forced them into eight turnovers.
Riverside cut its deficit down to 21-18 early in the second quarter, but Vincent Phillips’ 14 first-half points helped Karr take a 29-22 lead into halftime.
Phillips led the Cougars with 20 points and four rebounds, while Thompson contributed four points, three rebound and four assists. Both were named to the all-tournament team..
“We did a better job of getting to their shooters tonight,” Karr coach Taurus Howard said. “You just have to give them credit, they just made one or two more plays then us at the end.”
Mitchell Robinson (Chalmette), Kalob Ledoux (Lafayette Christian), Wayde Sims (University High), Lamar Peters (Landry-Walker), Ja’vonte Smart (Scotlandville) were the other players named to the all-tournament team as well.