It’s been fun to be a Booker T. Washington boys basketball player lately.
The Lions are on a roll; BTW won all four of its games in the North DeSoto tournament to improve to 8-3.
The Lions’ streak included a 60-57 comeback win against Byrd on Friday night.
“We made a lot of mistakes early in the game,” BTW coach Tony Reliford said. “But we executed better on offense, and we started pressuring the ball.”
BTW trailed Byrd by 16 points entering the fourth quarter.
“We got a lot of turnovers, and we were able to close the gap really fast,” Reliford said. “That was a really good win for us. We came back to beat Fair Park, so it didn’t surprise me. It was a little unlikely, though.”
After the Lions fought their way back into the game and tied it with a minute left, Byrd had a chance to win it. But the Yellow Jackets shot didn’t fall, which gave BTW 3.3 seconds.
That was plenty time for Karim El-Amin, who finished with 23 points, to bank in a 3-point game winner from the top of the key.
The Lions rode their momentum from that win to two more victories Saturday — 50-46 against Southwood and 51-47 against Arkansas High.
“Saturday was our first time playing two games in one day, and we did it with 45 minutes in between,” said Reliford, whose team also beat Logansport and was the only unbeaten team in the North DeSoto tournament. “That wasn’t good, but the guys grew up. They were sluggish, but they fought through it. They definitely grew up this weekend.”
The Lions played at Red River on Monday night and will take on Plain Dealing at home tonight.
“The way we played helped us a lot mentally,” Reliford said. “We have tremendous confidence now, knowing we are never out of a game.”
The Rebels have played several games without starters this season, but you wouldn’t know that looking at their record.
North Caddo was 11-3 going into Monday night’s game against North DeSoto.
“I’ve been here a while, and this is the deepest team I’ve had,” North Caddo coach Joel Brown said. “We’ve got between 10 and 12 who can play, and now we’ve played four games without at least one of our starters.”
On Saturday, the Rebels played twice without team leader Alton Clay, who is averaging nearly 20 points and nine rebounds a game. Clay missed a Minden Holiday Classic 74-58 semifinal win against Captain Shreve and North Caddo’s 82-65 championship game loss to Minden to attend his sister’s graduation from Louisiana-Lafayette.
“It really hurt us not having him there for the game against Minden,” Brown said. “But playing without him helps give some other players confidence. We’ve won a game without our starting point guard, another without Alton and another game without one of our other guards.”
Freshman Robert Williams stepped in and played well in Clay’s absence.
The Rebels will play Fair Park tonight and will participate in the Southwood tournament this weekend.
The Crimson Tide beat Haynesville 68-36 last Thursday in its first game playing in its own tournament.
Minden went on to win its Holiday Classic championship, beating Doyline 98-65 Friday and Red River 66-47 and North Caddo on Saturday.
Connect with Brent Shirley on Twitter at @bshirley08.