Ooltewah brought the curtain down on the first night of the Best of Preps basketball tournament by delivering a show-stopping, 76-55, victory over North Jackson (Ala.) at Chattanooga State on Thursday.
The Owls sat around the host Tigers’ gym for three or four hours awaiting their nightcap against the Chiefs. When the tipoff finally came about 40 minutes past the scheduled start time, Ooltewah hammered North Jackson with a 23-4 first quarter and the Chiefs never recovered.
“We talked before the game,” Owls coach Jesse Nayadley said, “and told the guys we wanted to come out and play as hard as we could to get our legs under us. I thought we did that.”
Thursday night’s win moved the Owls into a second-round matchup against defending tournament champion McCallie, which clubbed Boyd-Buchanan, 60-43, in Friday’s finale scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
Four of the eight boys teams participating in the tournament came in with losing records. McCallie is the only one of the four to win, and the Blue Tornado take a 4-4 mark into the semifinal showdown against Ooltewah (10-2).
“It’s good to be playing in the second round after a win,” McCallie coach Dan Wadley said.
In other first round games, Notre Dame defeated Red Bank, 69-61, and short-handed Baylor crushed the outmanned Chattanooga Patriots, 61-20.
Notre Dame and Baylor square off Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the other semifinal game.
Red Bank plays the Patriots at 11:30 a.m. and Boyd-Buchanan takes on North Jackson at 2:30 p.m. in loser’s bracket games.
The Owls led 9-4 and outscored the Chiefs (2-10) 14-0 over the final 2:14 of the opening quarter to put first-year coach Mike Holt’s club in an early hole.
“It seems like we have one terrible quarter per game when teams punch us in the mouth and we kind of fold,” said Holt, who come to North Jackson, located in Stevenson, Ala., from Bob Jones High School in Madison. “Then we decide to wake up and it’s too late. It’s usually the second quarter, but tonight it was the first.”
Ooltewah’s Antonio Jackson, who had a game-high 18 points, made a 3-pointer and two free throws as the Owls opened a 38-18 lead with 1:43 left in the second quarter.
Up by 48-32 in the third quarter, the Owls got a layup from Ben Snider, a 3 by Daaron Maston, a steal and layup from Jackson and another bucket and stretched their lead to 57-32, their biggest lead of the game.
With reserves on the court, the fourth quarter was just a formality for the victory.
Snider finished with 11 points for the Owls, who finished second in the Peper Law Firm Classic last weekend in Charleston, S.C. Jacqueze Robinson and Daaron Maston each scored nine points.
Fifteen Owls played and 11 scored.
“We subbed real deep (Thursday),” Naydadley said. “We just got back from a tournament where we played two really good games. That last game we were tired. I’m trying to get us a little rest without ruining our chemistry. Playing tournament basketball is different than the regular season and I thought we probably over-subbed a bit at times.”
Nayadley told his players not to arrive on the Chattanooga State campus until 7 p.m. on Saturday to avoid sitting around so long.
“We’ll have a shoot-around probably about 1 o’clock at our school,” Nayadley said. “You try to press all the right buttons, but the key is for the palyers to get off their feet. (Saturday) will be a really fast game with McCallie.”
Seth Rowe paced North Jackson with 13 points and Andrew Kirk added 10.
“Obviously, Ooltewah is a pretty talented ballclub,” Holt said. “Their backcourt is as fast as we’ve seen. We’ve played some tough teams like Madison County and Butler out of the Huntsville area. Ooltewah reminds me of Butler the way they run their offense and their guard play. They’re hard to stop. We’ve don’t have that kind of foot speed to compete at that level yet.”
McCallie 60, Boyd-Buchanan 43: McCallie, which beat Tyner for the 2011 BOP title, built a 25-13 halftime lead and outscored the Buccaneers, 12-4, over the final 5:52 of the second quarter.
But the Bucs (7-5) wouldn’t go away.
Trailing 31-19, Boyd-Buchanan had a 7-2 run to slice the Tornado lead to 33-26.
“We had to get some rust off for not having played since the 15th,” Wadley said. “We figured out that since the 15th, we’ve practiced a total of two and a half hours. That’s why we shot as bad as we did. I do think we can play better.”
When the Bucs pulled within seven points, Wadley called a timeout.
“I told them to shoot the open shot,” Wadley said. “Quit hesitating. When we hit shots, we look like a pretty good team.”
Over the next 70 seconds, Jamaal Calvin hit a 3, Jorden Williams made two 3-pointers – those bombs offset one by the Bucs – and McCallie stretched its lead to 42-29.
“That run was the difference in the game,” Bucs coach Cole Rose said. “We never put one together. During the season, we’ve usually had two or three runs in our games. Their physicality bothered us, too. We have to work on that.”
Boyd-Buchanan’s Justus McMillan hit a field goal, but McCallie scored the next eight points to take a 50-31 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Calvin’s bucket and a free throw by Eric Wolf gave the Tornado a 53-33 lead. When C.J. Fritz dropped in two free throws, McCallie had a 59-37 lead with 2:16 left in the game.
“The only way to get better is to play better teams,” Rose said.
Williams led McCallie with 17 points and Calvin added 15. Wolf had 10 points.
Hall Allen scored a game-high 18 points, including four 3s, to lead the Bucs. McMillan finished with 11 points.
Notre Dame 69, Red Bank 61: The Irish built double-digit leads twice in the first half, but couldn’t put the Lions away.
In fact, Red Bank (4-9) grabbed its first lead at 37-36 on Chris Tucker’s turnaround jumper with 2:32 left in the third quarter. The Irish (9-4) responded with Ryan Mink’s three-point play and Stedmon Ford’s jumper from the left wing for a 41-37 lead.
Red Bank’s Kalik Hudson got a layup off a Notre Dame turnover and gave the Lions a 47-46 lead with 5:58 left in the game. The Irish answered that threat with eight straight points for a 54-47 advantage.
The Lions were within 57-53 with 3:07 remaining, but the Irish were up 65-57 with 1:29 on the clock and held that margin down the stretch, protecting the lead with fastbreak layups, not free throw.
Notre Dame didn’t make a free throw in the final 5:23.
“We just don’t want to lose,” Irish coach J.P. Nerbun said of his team’s response to the Lions’ second-half challenges. “(The Lions) played well, better than in the first game we played.
“We continued to push the ball and got some easy layups. We’re faster than just about anybody we play and do what we’re best at doing. Maybe our losing those big leads was about dusting off the cobwebs from the Christmas break. We lost our focus and leadership on the court.”
Sophomore Kareem Orr led the Irish with 19 points and senior Stedmon Ford scored 17. Senior Kywaun Davenport added 15 points on five 3-pointers – the only ones Notre Dame made.
“We tried to pressure them on defense,” Lions coach Corey Lazenby said. “We got out of the zone and went man to slow them down. I think we were out of gas mentally and physically in the last part of the fourth quarter. They’ve got nice guards who can handle the ball in tough situations.
“When you play lackluster defense fatigues seems to set in.”
Fred Matthews paced the Lions with 16 points. Tucker finished with 10 points.
Baylor 61, Chattanooga Patriots 20: The Red Raiders (8-2) led the heavy underdog Patriots (7-8), 13-11. That’s as long as the Patriots, a team of home-school students, were in the game.
Baylor’s Clay Born ignited the Red Raiders’ offense with 12 second-half points on four 3s coach Austin Clark’s squad roared into a 32-13 lead by holding the Patriots to two points in the quarter.
The rout was on.
The Patriots scored just nine points over the final three quarters and Baylor outscored them 49-3 over one long stretch.
Born finished with a game-high 22 points, including 6 3s, and single-handedly outscored the Patriots, a home-school squad.
“Last week in our tournament down at Fort Payne (Ala.), Clay made five 3s in the first quarter and finished with nine,” Clark said. “He’s very capable of doing that.”
Matt Clendenen added 11 points and the Red Raiders’ other two 3s.
Baylor is still playing without injured senior Reggie Upshaw and standout sophomore Amedeo Giussani, who flew home to Switzerland to visit family and friends during the Christmas break.
The Patriots, who managed just one point in the third quarter, were led by John Truax’s six points.
Clark was asked how he prepares for a team he knows little or nothing about.
“I don’t want this to sound arrogant, but I don’t scout a whole lot,” he said. “We can’t control what they do. We have to control ourselves and execute what we do. They had some nice players, though.
“We shot the ball fairly well and defensively we were pretty solid and I was proud of our effort on defense. Offensively, we didn’t execute.”
Red Bank 13 15 13 20 – 61
Notre Dame 20 11 11 27 – 69
Red Bank (61) – McConnell 2, Poole 4, Chris Tucker 10, Hudson 6, Suttles 2, M.Davis 8, Autry 7, W.Davis 6, Fred Matthews 16, Akridge.
Notre Dame (69) – Stedmon Ford 17, Kareem Orr 19, Green 9, Byrd 3, Kywaun Davenport 15, Mink 3, Carter 3, Harris.
3-Point Goals: Red Bank 1 (Matthews); Notre Dame 5 (Davenport 5).
Baylor School 13 19 21 8 – 61
Chattanooga Patriots 11 2 1 6 – 20
Baylor (61) – Clay Born 22, Maum 4, Lupas 8, Upshaw 3, Matt Clendenen 11, Seaberg 5, Linehart 5, Bowens 3, Kelly.
Chattanooga Patriots (20) – Birkhead 2, Porter 2, Fears 2, T.Murphy, J.Murphy, Ambrosetti 5, Jones 3, Truax 6, Kindiger, Meyer, C.Howard, M.Howard.
3-Point goals: Baylor 8 (Born 6, Clendenen 2; Chattanooga Patriots 2 (Ambrosetti, Jones).
McCallie 11 14 25 10 – 60
Boyd-Buchanan 5 8 18 12 -- 43
McCallie (60) – Fritz 4, Jorden Williams 17, Jacobs 6, Alford 2, Jamaal Calvin 15, Hobbs 5, Eric Wolf 10, No. 42 1, Clark, Couch.
Boyd-Buchanan (43) – Hall Allen 18, Arendale, Justus McMillan 11, Cox 4, Nason 2, Walker 6, Jenkins 2.
3-Point Goals: McCallie 7 (Williams 3, Calvin 3, Hobbs); Boyd-Buchanan 4 (Allen 4).
Ooltewah 23 19 20 14 – 76
North Jackson 4 20 20 11 – 55
Ooltewah (76) – Antonio Jackson 18, Robinson 9, Ware 6, Ben Snider 11, Presley 9, Hasanbegovic 5, King, Fritz 3, Boyd 2, Maston 9, Carr 2, Bass, Wooden, Jones, Cothran 2.
North Jackson (55) – Andrew Kirk 10, Ballard 5, Nevels 3, Seth Rowe 13, Peacock 2, Gill 3, Chisenall 6, Smith 5.
3-Point Goals: Ooltewah 6 (Presley 3, Jackson, Robinson, Hasanbegovic); North Jackson 4 (Kirk 2, Nevels, Rowe).
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)