McCallie has a bead on its second straight Best of Preps basketball tournament championship.
The Blue Tornado (5-4) overwhelmed Ooltewah with a 46-point second half and whipped the Owls, 67-56, behind the strong play of guards Jamaal Calvin and Jorden Williams on Friday night at Chattanooga State to reach Saturday’s title game.
Calvin scored a game-high 27 points, dropped in three 3-pointers and pulled down nine rebounds to power the Tornado’s impressive semifinal performance. Williams had 21 points, three 3s and six rebounds.
The pair combined to hit 16 of 29 shots from the floor.
“We use (the perceived lack of respect) as fuel,” Williams said. “People talk smack behind our back and they’re like we’re not good. They say we don’t have this person, that person, you all going to suck, don’t have post players. Today we proved that we can play with anybody. We can be the best in the city, compete in state, play with Ensworth.
“It’s a blessing to be in the championship game. And playing our arch-rival Baylor kind of tops it off for us.”
Baylor, which got a 29-point effort from junior Matt Clendenen in a 52-33 rout of Notre Dame in the day’s first semifinal, will be making its first appearance in the title game at 8:30 p.m.
“We’ve made the semifinals a bunch of times,” Red Raiders coach Austin Clark said, “but we’ve never made the championship game.”
Ooltewah (10-3) will play the Irish (9-5) for third place at 5:30 p.m.
The McCallie-Ooltewah was a tale of two halves in the best game of the three-day tournament so far. In the seven previous boys games prior to the Tornado and Owls taking the floor, the average margin of victory was 22.3 points.
This one was more competitive, more intense than any of the others, where the point spread went from a high of 41 to a low of eight in the tournament’s first game between Notre Dame and Red Bank – the Irish won, 69-61.
The Owls got off to a fast start and scored the final six points of the first quarter for a 16-14 lead. They stretched the margin to 29-21 by outscoring the Tornado, 9-5, late in the second quarter. The Owls scored on three 3s, two by Ty Presley and one by Jacqueze Robinson.
McCallie started to find its footing in the third quarter. Down 30-23, the Tornado got a 3-pointer and a free throw by Williams and two free throws by Calvin to tie the game at 30-all. Antonio Jackson made two freebies for the Owls. Then Calvin drained a 3 and followed that with a baseline bank-shot to give McCallie a 35-32 lead.
“I thought we were ready in the third quarter, but obviously we weren’t,” Nayadley said.
The quarter ended with McCallie leading, 42-41.
Ooltewah battled back and had a 50-47 lead when things went terribly wrong. The Owls' tenacious defense faded and the offense practically disappeared.
McCallie, which shot 52 percent (24 of 26) from the floor, scored nine straight points – Williams had five – and took a 56-50 lead with 4:09 remaining.
The Owls, who shot 37 percent (21 of 56), made just two more field goals, including another 3 by Robinson, while McCallie spread the floor trying to force Ooltewah, which was already in foul trouble, to foul even more.
McCallie, which made 12 of 15 free throws in the game, dropped in 7 of 8 in the final 1:21 to secure the victory.
“We went to the spread to protect the ball,” McCallie coach Dan Wadley said. “And we’ve got three guards that can handle the ball pretty good. I thought when we got the lead we could make them chase us a little bit, and that’s what happened.”
Down the stretch, Ooltewah lost its shooting touch in a big way. Presley missed back-to-back 3s from the right corner and Daaron Maston’s bucket with less than a minute to play was the lone Owls field goal in the final 3:40.
“Everybody was talking about them being the best team in Chattanooga,” Calvin said. “It feels good to prove everybody wrong. Everybody says we’re all about the guard trio, but we proved today we’re a team.”
The Tornado did something Ooltewah wasn’t able to do – close strong. And Wadley knows why.
“Once we started attacking (offensively), instead of going East and West and North and South, that was the difference in the game,” he said. “And it’s good to have two senior guards who wanted to win this game.”
Robinson was the only Owls player in double figures with 23 points. Jackson, Andrew Ware and Ben Snider each had eight and Ware added a game-high 10 rebounds, eight on the defensive end.
“I don’t know if this game was disappointing,” Nayadley said. “We came here to win, but we’re trying to move forward and March is what the end-goal is for us. I’m disappointed in the way we played in the second half. We’re better than that.
“We’ll either learn from this loss and get better or we’ll feel sorry for ourselves and play terrible on Saturday. We’ll find out a lot Saturday.”
McCallie outrebounded Ooltewah, 38-25
Baylor 53, Notre Dame 33: This was Clendenen’s game. The junior scored a tournament-high 29 points on 13-of-19 shooting, pulled down five rebounds and blocked a shot.
“That’s probably the best game I’ve played at Baylor,” Clendenen said. “A lot of those shots I didn’t think would go in, but they happened to fall. It was just a good night. I’d say I had a great game.”
Clendenen scored six first-quarter points as the Red Raiders (7-2) broke away from the Fighting Irish (9-5) with a 12-0 to open a 16-4 lead. Kareem Orr’s layup with 36.9 seconds left in the quarter ended the Irish’s drought.
Baylor extended that run to 24-2 and stretched the margin to 28-6. Clendenen had eight points in that second stretch. After an Irish bucket, Clendenen hit a 3, nailed a bank shot from the left side and Tyler Seaberg added a tap-in and the Red Raiders led, 35-8, at halftime.
The devastating streak reached 31-4 at the break and Clendenen had 19 points, 13 coming in the second quarter.
“Matt did a really nice job,” Baylor coach Austin Clark said. “As a coach I strive for perfection and it’s not just about scoring. I also saw turnovers (four) he made and rebounds he didn’t get. So, he had some bad in with all that good.”
Baylor managed only nine points in the third quarter, but Clendenen scored six. The other three came on one of Clay Born’s two 3-pointers.
Clendenen made back-to-back field goals in the fourth quarter and was pulled from the game with 29 points – the exact total for the entire Notre Dame team at that point – with 2:47 left on the clock.
“Nobody wanted to step up and shut him down,” Notre Dame coach J.P. Nerbun said of the Red Raiders’ scoring machine, who said his previous single-game high was 25 points. “We have guys who can stop him, but it a challenge thing with us. Nobody is stepping up to some challenges yet.”
Notre Dame’s defense failed to show up. With Clendenen and Born combining to make 16 of 23 shots, the Red Raiders shot 61 percent (21 of 36) from the field.
“We played our worst defense of the year (Thursday in a 69-61 win over Red Bank) and just a little better tonight,” Nerbun said. “We let people play their style – a half-court offense and let them do anything they wanted.”
Conversely, the Irish shot 29 percent (12 of 45) and Ford and Kywaun Davenport, who had 13 and eight points, respectively, made just 6 of 31 combined shots from the floor. They were a combined 3 of 18 from 3-point distance. Kealey Green made all four of his shots for eight points.
Chattanooga Patriots 68, Red Bank 41: The Patriots, a home-school team in its eighth year playing basketball, got Red Bank’s attention in the second quarter, outscoring the Lions, 25-7, to grab a stunning, 40-17 halftime lead.
The Patriots (8-8) had 15-0 and 12-0 runs in the first and second quarters, stretching the latter to 23-5 on Nick Birkhead’s 3 for the 23-point advantage at the break.
Red Bank (4-10) trailed 52-31 after three quarters and it only got worse for the frustrated Lions in the final eight minutes, despite a running clock.
The Patriots three times had 26-point leads and Aaron Ambrosetti’s fastbreak layup gave the winners their final 27-point spread in the final seconds.
“We started this program eight years ago in a an old church gym with carpeted walls,” Patriots coach David Ambrosetti said. “This was one of our biggest wins, especially coming against an established program in a venue like this.
“For some reason the guys didn’t believe in our game plan (Thursday) night, but today they went with it. We try to teach them to play 100 percent for 32 minutes.”
On Thursday, the Patriots lost to Baylor, 61-20.
Senior Donovan Jones poured in a game-high 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting, including 3 of 4 from 3-point distance, to spearhead the Patriots’ shellacking of the embarrassed Lions.
Senior John Truax scored 12 points and Aaron Ambrosetti added 10. Collins Fears had six points and seven rebounds.
Will Davis led Red Bank with 11 points. Senior Fred Matthews added eight points and 10 rebounds.
The Patriots hit 26 of 48 shots for 54 percent while the off-target Lions made just 16 of 54 for an anemic 29.6 percent.
Boyd-Buchanan vs. North Jackson: In the opening round on Thursday, McCallie hammered the Bucs, 60-43. Less than 24 hours later, Boyd-Buchanan took out its frustration on the struggling Chiefs.
The Bucs (8-5) blitzed the Chiefs, 24-8, in the first quarter and set the tempo for the rest of the game. The Bucs got the romp started by outscoring their opponent, 21-2.
“I feel good about this game, especially the way they came back after the loss to Baylor,” Bucs coach Cole Rose said. “We came out to prove we’re better than what we showed last night.
“When you’re a team striving to get better in a tournament like this, it’s key to start the game well.”
Boyd-Buchanan put three players in double figures – Justus McMillan, Austin Walker and Hall Allen.
McMillan led the offensive attack with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He also had a team-high nine rebounds. Walker had 18 points and Allen added 15, helping the Bucs to a 53-33 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Those three players combined to hit 20-of-32 shots and the hot-shooting Bucs hit 58 percent (25 of 43) from the floor.
“I thought Walker and McMillan both came out and played really well after struggling last night,” Rose said. “And I think our defensive intensity
The Chiefs (2-11) had a horrendous first quarter for the second straight game – they trailed Ooltewah, 23-4, on Thursday – and again could not recover.
“We’re struggling right now,” Chiefs coach Mike Holt said. “If you keep playing from deficits like that, it’s hard to beat anybody. The biggest challenge for teen-agers when things are going bad is to stay positive. All those teen-agers see are the losses.
“It’s also a big challenge for me as a coach. We’ve fought hard all year, but in this game we didn’t come out ready to play.”
Red Bank 10 7 14 10 – 41
Chattanooga Patriots 15 25 12 15 – 68
Red Bank (41) – Matthews 8, Tucker 4, Will Davis 11, Suttles 5, Autry 7, Poole 1, Akridge, McConnell, M.Davis 2, Hudson 3.
Chattanooga Patriots (68) – Fears 7, Ambrosetti 10, Jones 25, Truax 12, Howard 6, Birkhead 6, Porter, Kindiger.
3-Point Goals: Red Bank 4 (Matthews 3, Autry); Chattanooga Patriots 5 (Jones 3, Birkhead 2).
Boyd-Buchanan 24 13 16 17 – 70
North Jackson 8 18 7 14 – 47
Boyd-Buchanan (70) – Hall Allen 15, Justus McMillan 22, Cox 6, Austin Walker 18, Jenkins 2, Bruns, Arendale 4, Covington, Nason 2, Jackson 1, Clarke 0.
North Jackson (47) – Kirk 7, Tolliver 8, Lowrance 9, Rowe 5, Chisenall 9, Ballard 3, Nevels, Peacock 2, Gill, Summers 3, Smith 1.
3-Point Goals: Boyd-Buchanan 5 (Allen 2, McMillan 2, Walker); North Jackson 4 (Kirk, Tolliver, Chisenall, Summers).
Notre Dame 6 2 14 11 – 33
Baylor 16 19 9 8 – 52
Notre Dame (33) – Stedmon Ford 13, Orr 2, Green 8, Byrd, Davenport 8, Carter, Mink, Johnson, Darras, Harris, Davis 2.
Baylor (52) – Clay Born 10, Matt Clendenen 29, Maum 2, Upshaw 2, Lupas, Bowens 5, Linehart, Seaberg 4, Kelly.
3-Point Goals: Notre Dame 3 (Ford 3); Baylor 3 (Born 2, Clendenen).
McCallie 14 7 21 25 – 67
Ooltewah 16 13 12 15 – 56
McCallie (67) – Fritz 5, Jorden Williams 21, Jacobs 8, Jamaal Calvin 27, Hobbs 4, Alford, Clark, Couch 2.
Ooltewah (56) – Jackson 8, Jacqueze Robinson 23, Ware 8, Snider 8, Presley 6, Boyd, Maston 3.
3-Point Goals: McCallie 7 (Williams 3, Calvin 3, Fritz); Ooltewah 8 (Robinson 5, Presley 2, Maston).
Seventh-Place, Red Bank vs. North Jackson, 11:30 a.m.
Fifth-Place, Chattanooga Patriots vs. Boyd-Buchanan, 2:30 p.m.
Third-Place, Notre Dame vs. Ooltewah, 5:30 p.m.
Championship, Baylor vs. McCallie, 8:30 p.m.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org)