LAKE CHARLES — Jordan Andrews wasn’t always as splendid on the basketball court as he was Saturday in his final game in a Riverside Academy uniform.
His coach flashed back to four years ago.
“When he was an eighth-grader, he looked liked Pistol Pete (Maravich) and wanted to do everything fancy,” recalled Riverside’s Timmy Byrd. “It was two fantastic passes and then 10 turnovers after that. But he is a complete basketball player now.”
The senior guard poured in a game-high 19 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists Saturday as No. 1 Riverside 3-peated with an 85-60 victory over No. 2 Lakeview in a Class 2A title game foul fest.
Byrd, who mentioned earlier in the week that winning a third straight title is supposed to be tough, had no idea it would be this tough. Or this physical.
The teams combined for 77 free throws in the game that was chippy even before the opening tip when junior guard Malik Crowfield and Lakeview’s Tay Hardy exchanged words.
“It was a very physical game,” Byrd said. “They are really athletic and physical, and I am so proud of my guys for not backing down from the challenge. Our kids showed a tremendous amount of toughness.”
Riverside (30-6) became the first LHSAA school to 3-peat since Reserve Christian completed the feat from 2007-2009. That team was also coached by Byrd and it finished off a run of five straight titles at now defunct Reserve Christian.
This one wasn’t pretty.
There were 59 fouls called, with four players fouling out.
Eddie Bonine, the new LHSAA executive director, replaced one of the three officials for the second half of the game.
But the Rebels adjusted to the physical play.
“They have shown for the last four years that they can play any style,” said Byrd, who now has 12 state titles. “If we have to play finesse, if we play physical, if we have to slow it down, or if we have to play fast. They just are winners and they get it down, no matter how they have to get it done.”
Andrews, a Youngstown State-bound guard, was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player.
One of his biggest plays came early in the fourth quarter when he finished off a fast break with a thunderous left-handed jam, then followed it by drawing a charge on the defensive end.
“I thought that was the nail in the coffin,” Byrd said.
The two plays helped start a 13-2 run for the Rebels, turning a 59-51 lead into a 72-53 cushion.
It was just what they needed after Crowfield fouled out with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
“Malik’s my brother and so is the rest of my team,” Andrews said. “We felt like we had to win it for him and keep our thing going.”
Andrews took over late, despite picking up his fourth foul in the third quarter. Crowfield wasn’t so fortunate. He fouled out with 1:40 left in the third. Then, Joe Anderson fouled out with 5:17 left in the fourth.
“I have to be honest with you, I was worried in the third quarter,” Byrd said. “I just didn’t know if I was going to have enough players. When a guy like Malik fouls out, most teams would have (folded). It was a hairy moment in the third quarter. But these guys have seen it all and have been in a lot of wars and they knew how to win. I knew at the end of the day, if we had enough guys on the court, they would find a way to win.”
Herb McGee and Von Julien finished with 17 points each, while Crowfield and freshman Jared Butler had 10 each.
“Our bench was tremendous tonight,” Byrd said. “Jared Butler and Darrion Cook were incredible. It was just a really good team effort.”
Tay Hardy scored 18 points on 3 of 13 shooting to lead the No. 2 Gators (26-6). Nate Stampley and Cameron Pottain had 12 each for Lakeview, which lost to Riverside in the title game for a second straight season.
“It was impossible to get into a rhythm with that many fouls being called, but I thought every one was a legit foul and I thought they missed a couple too,” Lakeview coach Brian Williams said. “They got into our kids’ heads, and we just didn’t focus. It’s all part of the game.”
Lakeview was 29 of 36 from the free-throw line.
Riverside was 29 of 41 in the final game for senior starters Anderson, Julien and Andrews.
Although Andrews won’t be around next season, he is already talking about a 4-peat.
“It’s been four years with Von and he has been my point guard since eighth grade,” Andrews said. “We will leave it to Malik and Herb to get it done next year.”