Make it two classics in one week for the Byrd-Captain Shreve boys basketball rivalry.
The teams’ overtime battle in the third-place game at the Bossier Tournament last weekend was good enough that the two picked up right where they left off in another battle Friday night at Captain Shreve High School.
In the tournament game, Byrd erased a late Shreve lead to win by three. Friday night in a packed gym, the Gators were able to hang on late for a 70-64 win in the District 1-5A opener for both teams.
“That overtime game helped us have a great atmosphere here tonight,” Shreve coach Todd Martinez said. “Because of that game, everyone knew that we would have another really great game tonight. People got a little taste in the Bossier Tournament, and I guess they liked what they tasted. It was an extension from one game to another.”
Shreve (10-13, 1-0) trailed by seven points early in the first quarter but bounced back to tie the game 18-18 going into the second.
That’s when Raheem Thomas heated up for the Gators.
Thomas hit three of his four 3-pointers in the second quarter, and Shreve outscored Byrd (17-4, 0-1) by nine points to take a 39-30 halftime lead.
“I’m usually a good 3-point shooter, so tonight was just another night,” Thomas said. “But when it’s a big crowd like that, I enjoy it a lot more.”
The Gators offense fed off a raucous, standing-room-only crowd. The gym was so full, officials turned many fans away.
“These are two very good teams,” Martinez said. “Right now, the records might not show that. But now, at this point in the season, the only thing that matters is that district record.”
Byrd, led by Chad Lott and Justin McPhail who each had 14 points, scored at will in the third quarter. But the Yellow Jackets couldn’t get defensive stops to go along with the offense.
“They outplayed us tonight,” Byrd coach Rusty Johnson said. “They wanted it more.”
Shreve led 57-51 going to the fourth, and Jesse McWright hit a 3-pointer on the Gators’ first possession of the final quarter to give his team a comfortable cushion.
But Byrd didn’t give up.
The Jackets, who were down by eight with two minutes left, cut the deficit to three with :35 left on the clock. Jalen Bowers scored three, and Laderius Ford made a layup to make the score 67-64.
“They have a good press,” Thomas said. “You have to keep moving the ball and try to find someone open. When they cut the lead to three, and we’re missing wide-open layups, there was a little panic. It’s normal. We just had to not worry about it and keep going.”
Byrd, however, couldn’t get another turnover, and Shreve closed the game out on the free-throw line.
“That was what high school basketball should be every Tuesday and Friday night,” Martinez said of the competitive play and atmosphere. “I wish both schools could get that kind of support when we are playing teams other than each other. It’s going to be the same thing when we go to play them at their place.”
McWright led all scorers with 15 points. Thomas finished with 14 for the Gators, and Derrick Pace added 11.
The Gators are hoping to carry on their momentum after winning a rivalry game to start district play.
“We are going to try to take this win and ride with it,” Thomas said. “It was huge for our confidence.”