The Butler did it Thursday night.
Over and over again.
That’s Riverside guard Jared Butler, who scored 29 points against Lafayette Christian, all in the first three quarters, in the Rebels’ 65-60 victory in the second round of the Allstate Sugar Bowl Prep Classic at the Alario Center.
Butler, a sophomore, knocked down six 3-pointers.
“I can’t even describe what it feels like when the shots are falling like that,” Butler said. “I just try to do what my team needs. But I try not to do too much.”
He exploded for 16 points in the second quarter, including three straight 3-pointers to start the quarter and then a 3-point play.
Riverside, seeking its third Sugar Bowl tournament championship in four years, advances to Friday’s 7 p.m. semifinal to play the winner of Thursday’s late game between Landry-Walker and University High.
Lafayette Christian (16-2) saw its 10-game winning streak come to an end and will play Saturday in the consolation bracket.
“That’s a championship team we just played,” Knights coach Byron Starks said.
“It was a good experience for my team. Everybody got out and gave me the effort that I needed.”
Kalob Ledoux led the Knights with 17 points and his twin brother Jacob finished with 16 points. The brothers combined for 45 on Wednesday in the opening round against St. Thomas More.
But it wasn’t enough to slow down Butler, who looked early as if he may eclipse his season-high 41 points that he poured in earlier this season against St. Thomas Aquinas.
“In the first half, I thought we played no defense, didn’t maintain our responsibility and got beat off the dribble way too much,” Riverside coach Timmy Byrd said. “Jared kept us in the game in the first half.”
Especially in the second quarter.
Depsite Butler’s hot shooting, Lafayette Christian led 33-32 at halftime. Riverside got some separation in the second half, closing the third quarter on a 15-6 run to take a 56-46 lead into the fourth quarter. But the Knights rattled off eight straight points to close the gap to 56-54. They then got it to 60-59 on a jumper by Caleb Starks but never could regain the lead. Starks finished with 12 points.
“There were a couple times the shots didn’t fall our way, and they hit a lot of big 3s in the third quarter that opened it up,” Byron Starks said. “But we were valiant in our effort, and we fought back. It was a valiant effort.”
Riverside got a big three-point play from Jalen Banks with 1:27 left to make it 63-59.
Herb McGee finished with 14 points for Riverside. Malik Crowfield had nine points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in a game that Byrd was glad to see his team win.
“That’s the mark of a champion,” Byrd said. “These kids have been through a lot of wars. They know how to win, even when it’s not going well.”
A win in Friday’s semifinals would put Riverside in the Sugar Bowl final for a fourth straight year and fifth time in the tournament’s six-year history.
“This was a great win for us,” Butler said. “There was so much hype around LCA, so to be able to beat a team like them was big for us.”