SLIDELL — Herbert McGee wanted to shoot a 3-pointer. He really did.
But as the final seconds of Friday night’s game ticked away, Herbert couldn’t ignore the one voice that stood out in a gymnasium of several hundred fans. His coach, Tim Byrd, yelled at him to take the ball to the rim.
So he did.
Once there, Herbert pulled up for a short jumper off the glass with 2.4 seconds left, allowing Riverside to escape Salmen High School with a 70-68 win.
His shot marked Riverside’s third game-winner of that variety this season. And the Rebels needed their freshman’s heroics to overcome a 22-point effort by Salmen guard Eric Bell.
Lucky for Riverside, McGee has good hearing.
“I practice listening to coach in loud gyms,” said Herbert, who scored 12 points. “That’s all I listen for.”
Malik Crowfield led Riverside (17-4, 5-0) with 21 points. Charvon Julien added 14.
McGee’s shot ended a game full of runs. Riverside started fast, then Slidell controlled the tempo. Then Riverside. Back to Salmen.
In the end, though, Riverside forced Salmen to play its type of game — plenty of fast-paced basketball and quick shots.
It’s a game Salmen is less comfortable playing, and it showed, especially in the second half as Riverside kept a small lead.
Riverside had an opportunity to increase its lead in the fourth quarter, but the Rebels made just seven of their 12 free throws in the fourth quarter.
With Riverside leading 67-61, Bell made a 3-pointer and 23, who was fouled while dribbling, made two free throws with 1:38 left. And with 1:01 left, Salmen’s 22 made two free throws to tie the game.
Both teams failed to score on their next possessions, but in the final seconds, with the ball in Herbert’s hands, he listened to his coach’s shot selection. After his shot, Salmen missed a last-second shot near halfcourt.
The Rebels return to action Thursday against John Curtis. Salmen (19-6, 4-0) plays at Lakeshore on Thursday.
“We gave up easy layups on the backdoor. We were out of position to take charges. We’ve got to play through stuff like that,” said Bell, who was on the sideline for the final seconds, suffering from leg cramps.
Salmen’s Chris Vickers added 13 points and Cody Rudolph scored 12 points.