Riverside Academy coach Timmy Byrd says there’s no such thing as a night off — nor an off-night — once a team makes the playoffs.
“We can’t let up,” Byrd said. “If anyone wants to take a night off, they can take it off sitting on the bench.”
The No. 1 seeded Rebels certainly didn’t on Monday as they rolled to an easy 106-55 victory against No. 16 Newman in the Class 2A regional playoffs.
Riverside, the two-time defending state champion which has not lost a game to an in-state opponent this season, will play the winner of Tuesday night’s game between No. 8 Runnels and No. 9 Archbishop Hannan in Friday’s quarterfinal round. The Rebels have not faced either team this season.
But on Monday, they went up against a familiar foe in Riverside — their District 10-2A opponent. Riverside faced the Greenies (17-15) twice this season, winning by scores of 90-60 and 91-64. And the Greenies really didn’t have much of a chance on Monday.
The Rebels had five players reach double figures and hit 15 3 pointers in the game. Malik Crowfield led all scorers with 31 points, including five 3-pointers. Herb McGee scored 24 points with three 3-pointers. Garland Robertson, Von Julien and Jordan Andrews all finished with 11 points.
Peter Drennan was the lone Greenie to reach double figures. He finished with 23 points, including six 3-pointers.
After Crowfield scored a layup in the opening seconds of the game, the Rebels jumped to a 17-0 lead over the first six minutes playing their usual all-out style of basketball.
Riverside hit four 3-pointers in the first quarter, chased down missed shots for second chance baskets and forced 12 turnovers.
Newman did not score a point until the 1:13 mark of the first quarter when Riley Demps hit the first of his two 3-pointers in the game. Drennan added a free throw with 57 seconds remaining for Newman’s lone other point of the quarter. Riverside led 21-4 at the end of the period.
In the second quarter, the Rebels outscored Newman 33-13, hitting seven more 3-pointers, to take a 59-17 lead.
After that, the Rebels were able to work on their game a bit, Byrd said.
“We knew we wanted to run our half-court offense,” he said. “We knew we had to pick them up and speed them up full court and, hopefully, wear them out a little bit. And I thought our guys did a great job in the first half on defense. Believe it or not, Newman makes us better in a game like this because they’re well coached, they’re disciplined, they run their stuff in the half court, and they’ve got good shooters. So you just try to make them play at an uncomfortable pace.”
“We can’t play down,” Crowfield said. “I don’t want to go home early in the playoffs. We have to stay focused on the game. It was a big game for me.”