WESTWEGO — Riverside coach Timmy Byrd always jokes with sophomore guard Charvon Julien, telling him he goes to the rim soft.
Julien converted a layup and ensuing free throw with 1:12 seconds left Saturday night to seal a 72-65 win over Sheldon High School of Sacramento, Calif., in the boys championship game of the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic.
“I went up hard, exploded,” he said.
His play capped a Riverside rally from as much as 14 points in the first half as the Rebels adjusted to the physical play of their opponents. Julien finished with a team-high 22 points. Herbert McGee added 17. Malik Crowfield also scored 15.
For the first time in the three-year history of the tournament a local team has won the title.
“We’ve had teams in our past that have accomplished a lot of wonderful things,” Byrd said. “But this has to be one of the most unexpected wins.”
Riverside is coming off a 2011 season in which the Rebels reached the Class 2A championship game.
For Sheldon, Dakarai Allen scored 22 points. Darin Johnson added 21.
Julien’s layup and free throw gave Riverside a 67-62 lead. Teammate Jordan Andrews then followed by making two free throws.