The classification may have changed.
The results haven’t.
No. 1 seed Madison Prep claimed its third boys basketball state championship in four years, all in different classifications, with a 41-33 victory over No. 2 Riverside in the Class 2A title game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Top 28 tournament Saturday at Burton Coliseum.
The Chargers’ third state title came on the heels of winning a Class B crown in 2013 and a Class 1A title last season. It also came in the first meeting between the small-school powerhouses.
“This one is special, because it was probably more unexpected,” Chargers coach Jeff Jones said.
Perhaps even more unexpected is how they won, keeping a normally high-octane Riverside offense in check.
Riverside’s 33 points tied for the fewest points in a 2A title game, equaling the 33 scored by South Terrebonne against Neville in 1963.
The teams’ 74 combined points set a record for fewest points in a 2A title game, eclipsing the 76 scored in the 1993 game between Newman and Beau Chene.
It was just the type of game Jones wanted.
“You probably can outrun a bear, but you don’t want to,” Jones said. “We didn’t want to get in a track meet with those guys. We are real versatile. We can play in the high numbers, or we can play the slow, grind-it-out style we played today.”
The game was close throughout, with Madison Prep trailing 30-29 lead with 2:24 left. But the Chargers surged on a 10-0 run to finally get a cushion. The run was highlighted by back-to-back dunks by William Loyd and Joshua Anderson. The lead ballooned to 39-30 on a layup by Marquis Browder with 20 seconds left.
Josh LeBlanc scored nine points and grabbed 14 rebounds to earn Most Outstanding Player honors.
“We knew coming into the game we had to play defense,” LeBlanc said. “Coach told us this was going to be won on defense, so we put it on our minds to play defense.”
Riverside led 20-19 at halftime, but both teams struggled in the third quarter, combining for just seven points.
Riverside (27-6) went the first six minutes of the quarter without scoring. The drought didn’t end until Jalen Banks scored on a putback — the Rebels’ only points of the quarter — with two minutes left. Those two points set a 2A record for scoring futility in a quarter.
But despite that, the Rebels trailed just 24-22 headed into the fourth quarter.
“They played really good defense,” Riverside coach Timmy Byrd said. “That’s the first team to really shut us down. Defensively, I thought they were smothering. We just couldn’t really get it going tonight.”
Joshua Anderson scored 11 points to go with seven rebounds for the Chargers (34-4), who ended the season on a 17-game winning streak.
“Josh LeBlanc as a sophomore grew up tonight,” Jones said. “He controlled the boards and controlled the paint. Josh Anderson has been our leader all night. He didn’t have the best offensive game tonight but, from a stabilizing standpoint, he gave us seven rebounds and a couple assists and steals.”
Jamel Robinson also had nine points, and Marquis Browder finished with seven. But Browder’s best work came on the defensive end: He helped hold Riverside sophomore Jared Butler to three points on 1-of-8 shooting.
“He was like a pesky gnat and stayed in front of him,” Jones said.
Herb McGee, a South Alabama signee, scored 14 points, and Malik Crowfield, a Virginia Commonwealth signee, had 13 for the Rebels.
“We didn’t want Herb, Malik and Jared to get in any rhythm,” Jones said. “They have one of the best transition games in the state, and we didn’t want to get involved in that. We had to stick to our strength, which is grinding and defense. They like to race, race, race, and we like to put up a lot of speed bumps.”
Madison Prep did just that, denying the Rebels a fourth straight title and their sixth in seven years.