When Paris Holland came off the bench and knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers in the first quarter, it just looked like it was going to be Riverside Academy’s night.
Holland’s 3-pointers quickly extended Riverside’s lead to eight points, but more importantly, it provided the Rebels with a lot of confidence in their long-range shooting.
Holland hit five of his team’s 10 3-pointers over the first two quarters as Riverside built a 50-31 halftime lead. By the time the game was done, the Rebels connected on a total of 12 3-pointers and Riverside, the No. 8 seed, came away with a 77-63 win over No. 9 seed Central Catholic of Morgan City in the opening round of the Division IV playoffs Tuesday in Reserve.
The win advances Riverside to the quarterfinals on Friday at Crescent City, the No. 1 seed. Crescent City advanced a few days earlier after an 80-33 win over Westminster, the No. 16 seed.
“In practice Coach(Timmy Byrd) preaches knocking down the open shot. We do a lot of drills where we shoot the (3-point) shot and we came out with the attitude that we could knock down open shots during the game,” said Holland.
Holland finished with 20 points and Gage Larvadain 30 to lead the Rebels.
As the Rebels (15-15) were knocking down long-range shots, D.J. Lewis was keeping the Eagles (20-12) in the game with nine points in the opening quarter as the 6-foot-7 sophomore center was a force near the basket.
Then came Riverside’s full-court press. The Rebels forced numerous turnovers that turned into easy baskets. The Eagles had trouble getting the ball across midcourt, let alone the basket, negating the Lewis’ ability to score and pull down rebounds.
“When we put our bench in, they did a really good job in the press for us,” said Byrd. “We got turnovers with the press and we knocked down some 3’s tonight, so we got some separation.”
“I don’t think they were ready for the quickness,” Byrd continued. “Our kids did a really good job on their assignments on the press. We were in position and we used our quickness to make plays.”
After scoring nine points in the first quarter, Lewis was limited to four in the second quarter. He finished the game as Central Catholic’s only double-figure scorer with 23 points.
“Coach called timeout and told us to really watch out for No. 5. He said if we get in the press, they can’t handle the ball. We got in the press and it turned out OK,” said Holland.
The Rebels also did a good job of containing Taylor Blanchard, limiting the 6-foot-5 senior to 12 points.
“We didn’t let (Blanchard) get on track. He can really shoot it. We did a good job making sure that he didn’t get many looks,” said Byrd.
Riverside’s biggest lead in the first half was 20 points when a shot off the glass by Larvadain gave the Rebels a 42-22 lead.
With Lewis able to assert himself a bit again in the third quarter with eight points, the Eagles narrowed the gap to 13 points at 63-50 heading into the fourth quarter.
Central Catholic managed to get as close as nine points when Blanchard hit the first of his two 3-pointers in the game to make it 67-58 at the 4:09 mark of the fourth quarter.
The final margin was a 16-point spread but the lead could have been larger had the Rebels performed better from the free-throw line down the stretch.
The Rebels were 7 of 14 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.