After a slow start, the Riverside Rebels did what they’ve done every game this season: win.
Isaiah Bigham scored 18 points, Jared Butler added 16 more and the Rebels cruised past the Covington Lions 77-60 to move on to the second round of the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic at the Alario Center on Tuesday.
Riverside (19-0) has yet to lose a game this season and has won all three tournaments they have taken part in. While Tuesday’s result is certainly inspiring and nothing new for the Rebel’s, head coach Timmy Byrd was more concerned about his team’s health and energy after the game.
“We’re a little tired and a little worn down and we’ve got a couple of guys that I’m hoping are not in the early stages of the flu,” he said. “Our guys are just tired. You can tell. It was good to get a win. It was good to play a lot of guys and that’s what it’s about, getting better.”
While Bigham and Garland Robertson — who scored 12 points — paced the Rebels, Butler got off to a slower start than normal before scoring 10 points in the second half to finish with 16.
“He is clearly not at 100 percent,” Byrd said. “His knee has been bothering him but we have to play him, he wants to play and he is still good but it is obvious that he is not getting lift or the usual explosion off the dribble.”
Covington (10-5) is in just their third week under head coach John Boudreaux after former coach Stephen Lopinto was relieved of his duties. The Lions got off to a strong start, leading 14-12 after the first quarter before Riverside took control.
“I just got the team three weeks ago,” said Boudreaux. “It’s a work in progress but the kids are buying into what I’m doing and I believe we’ll get to where we need to.”
The Rebels got off to a 9-2 lead before Covington went on a 12-3 run to take the lead 14-12 at the end of one behind Elgin Bell, who finished with a game high 19 points. Riverside mad a 12-2 run of their own to start the second quarter to retake the lead. Jalen Banks’ buzzer-beating putback gave the Rebels a 37-30 lead at halftime.
Riverside continued to dominate in the second half, leading by as much as 21 before ultimately getting the 17-point victory. The Rebels will play the winner of the University High vs. Dunham game Thursday at 7 p.m.
“It’s going to be a tough game coming up,” Byrd said. “Those are two good teams. Whoever we get we’re gonna have to be on our A game to come out victorious.”