McGee taking game to basketball court

Published 12:04 am Saturday, December 12, 2015

RESERVE — Riverside Academy’s Herb McGee is not used to losing on the playing field.  So he didn’t take too well to getting a double dose of it in recent days.

On Dec. 4, McGee was part of the Riverside football team that lost its bid for a state championship to Notre Dame of Crowley, 13-3, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

On Tuesday, McGee and several of his football teammates were stung again when the three-time defending state champion basketball team lost its season opener at home to West Jefferson, 58-49. The Rebels had not lost a game to an in-state opponent in nearly three years — since McGee was a freshman.

“We knew we had to lose one day,” said McGee, a 6-foot-2 guard who was named the Class 2A Player of the Year for the 2014-2015 season after averaging 18.9 points per game. “It was just our time to lose. It was a hurtful feeling. I felt like we let Coach Timmy (Byrd) down.”

Byrd brushed that off.

“We had one practice,” he said. “We weren’t in any kind of basketball shape at all.”

As much as that loss may have stung, however, McGee said he enjoyed just being on the court days after losing the biggest game of his football career (so far).

“It was exciting,” he said. “You lose a game on Friday and you just don’t want to dwell on that. At least you have basketball to look forward to. You have something else you love to look forward to.”

McGee did love football, though. Known throughout recruiting circles as a stellar wide receiver — he was named to the Class 2A All-State football season last year with 47 receptions for 713 yards and 13 touchdowns — he was pressed into service as a quarterback this season after projected starter Jordan Loving and backup Jared Butler were injured.

“At first I didn’t want to even play quarterback,” he said. “I didn’t want all that pressure. But I had to do what I had to do for the team. Then I loved playing quarterback. You get to touch the ball every play. But I didn’t have as many catches as last year. ”

McGee led the team through the first four games and filled in at spots for the rest, passing for 724 yards and seven touchdowns and rushing for 405 yards and four touchdowns through the Rebels’ semifinal win over St. Charles.

His receiving totals dropped to 301 yards with three scores.

Now, he’s trying to get himself back into basketball shape so he and his teammates can chase another state title.

“Last year it took us until almost mid-season,” McGee said. “We have to start winning games before we can start talking about winning a state championship. We have to find out who we are.”

By Lori Lyons