Herb McGee may have finished scoreless in the championship game of the Country Day Tournament last week, but his Riverside Academy teammates all said that it showed just how much he was willing to do whatever it takes to win.
The Rebels (7-3) needed their senior leader to do more scoring Tuesday, and he poured in 26 points to help push Riverside to a 70-57 over East St. John to win the Holy Cross Tony Rodi Basketball Classic for the second year in a row.
The Rebels claimed their second tournament title in the past two weeks — after winning the Country Day Classic — and are now 7-0 since gaining the majority of their rotation players following the conclusion of football season.
“I’m not worried about getting stats and stuff like that every game,” said McGee, who was awarded Tournament MVP after the win. “I just try to do whatever it takes to win games. We played really well tonight as a team, and I tried to just give them all I had.”
After falling in an early 15-8 hole to begin Tuesday’s game, Riverside got hot from the perimeter and nailed five 3-pointers to snatch the early momentum away from the Wildcats (7-8), ending with a Butler 3-pointer that gave Riverside a 27-23 lead.
Riverside guard Jared Butler chipped in 13 points during the second quarter as the Rebels began to take control of the game and expanded their lead to 38-28 following a three-point play by the sophomore.
Riverside finished with 25 points in the quarter and took a 43-33 lead into halftime.
“We started to make some shots and forced them to play more of our style,” said Butler, who finished with 19 points, seven rebounds and five steals.
“We enter every tournament feeling like we should win it, and it’s good to come out and play the way we did against a good team like East St. John.”
After taking a 57-45 lead into the fourth quarter, the Rebels utilized its ball-control offense to slow the pace of the game and keep the ball out of the hands of the Wildcats’ offense.
East St. John only managed to score four points in the first six minutes of the final quarter and a layup by Kash Foley gave Riverside its largest lead of the game at 65-49 with less than three minutes remaining.
The Wildcats made a late push to cut the deficit to 10 points late, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the game.
“The points off of turnovers really hurt us in the second quarter,” East St. John coach Yussef Jasmine said. “When you are playing a team as good as Riverside, you can’t afford to give them free baskets like that because it gets them into a rhythm.”
Troy Green led the way for the Wildcats with 21 points and 13 rebounds.