Riverside’s bid for a Sugar Bowl Classic three-peat got off to a good start with a convincing 78-43 victory over Richwood on Wednesday at the Alario Center.
Senior guard Von Julien, who was the tournament MVP two years ago, scored a team-high 19 points to lead Riverside (9-3), ranked No. 1 in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10.
Junior Herb McGee and freshman Jared Butler scored 14 apiece.
“We knew Jared was special, and he is starting to gain the confidence now,” Riverside coach Timmy Byrd said.
Riverside, undefeated this season against in-state opponents, will play Tift County (Ga.) at 6 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals.
“We have a real tough one (Thursday) against Tift County,” Byrd said. “I wish we had been a little bit sharper tonight. We are going to be in a war (Thursday). If we make some of the mistakes we made tonight, we’re going to be in trouble.”
Riverside jumped on Richwood early, building a commanding 29-11 lead after one quarter. The Rebels stretched the lead to 42-20 at halftime and 66-32 at the end of the third quarter.
But Byrd said Thursday’s game against the team that has won the Class 6A state championship in Georgia the past three seasons will be different than Wednesday’s game.
“They just have a great program,” Byrd said. “Georgia is a real good state for basketball. They are undefeated this year, and they are really good. They had a lot of seniors last year, but they are one of those programs that just keeps reloading.”
D’Angelo Smith scored 14 points to lead Richwood.