Freshman Jared Butler is now four games into his new starting role on the New Orleans Advocate’s top prep boys basketball team.
And what a job he’s doing for Riverside Academy.
On Wednesday night, Butler scored 10 of his 15 points during a second-half surge which ended with a 63-41 nondistrict win at Country Day.
He’s far from perfect, as this showdown between two-time defending state champions showed. In the first half, teammate Von Jullen (six points), a senior, had to remind him several times to shoot instead of pass, especially in tight situations, too close to the rim to make an easy pass.
But by the time the Rebels walked off Country Day’s court, he had showed why coach Timmy Byrd considers him one of the best freshman in the state.
“It’s kind of overwhelming because I’m a freshman, and everybody is saying, ‘Oh, what’s he going to do?’ ” Butler said. “So I have to come in and knock down shots. They trusted me after the Florida tournament, so I have to knock it down with confidence.”
Jordan Andrews and Herb McGee scored 14 points apiece for Riverside Academy (19-8).
While Riverside Academy went 1-2 last week in a Florida tournament, Butler scored 33 and 25 points in two of the games, adding another scorer on a speedy squad, known for its pressure on defense and offensively, one of the fastest — if not the fastest — fastbreak in the city.
On Wednesday, Riverside’s fastbreak gave Country Day fits, allowing the Rebels to recover from allowing a score on defense in seconds. Other times, their turnovers led to easy shots, all the time placing pressure on Country Day’s offense.
“They made a run in the third and in the fourth, we ran out of gas, and they took advantage,” Country Day coach Mike McGuire said. “I think if we would have played a little better offensively, we could have made in interesting, but it was 16-0 before we scored in the fourth quarter.”
Country Day, ranked sixth in the New Orleans Advocate’s basketball poll, led by J.C. Younger, kept the game close through halftime, trailing 31-26. But in the third, Butler’s Rebels kept running and Country Day’s lineup ran out of energy.
“We got tired, and we stopped moving,” said Younger, who finished with a game-high 22 points. “We got tired. We spent a lot of energy in the first half. Their defensive pressure (in the second half) was fantastic. When we slowed down on offense, it gave them more intensity, and they just got into us and we collapsed.”
Sometimes, Riverside took advantage with quick layups, and other times, like Butler’s two three-pointers in the third quarter, fast transition play overall was too much.
Walker Bright added nine points for Country Day.