Fighting to defend its 2011 title, McCallie trailed rival Baylor, 53-48, with only 4:50 left in the game.
One minute and 51 seconds later, McCallie had exploded into a 58-55 lead and went on to knock off the Red Raiders, 63-57, Saturday and capture the Tornado’s second straight Best of Preps basketball tournament championship before a capacity crowd at Chattanooga State.
How did the Blue Tornado pull off the stunning comeback?
“We just happened to have Jamaal Calvin,” McCallie coach Dan Wadley said.
Calvin, a sharp-shooting senior guard, capped a brilliant three-day tournament performance by scoring a game-high 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting, including 6 of 12 from 3-point distance – and beyond – and earning most valuable player honors.
At the 4:50 mark, Calvin orchestrated McCallie’s remarkable rally by getting steal and driving layup, a monstrous 3, and a mid-range – for him – 3-pointer from the top of the circle to give the Tornado a 56-55 lead.
What exactly is Calvin’s shooting range?
“Tonight it felt like half-court in,” he said. “I crossed the line once and let one go from real deep. Baylor wasn’t going to let me shoot any close ones, so I had to stretch it out.”
Three Calvin 3-pointers were from eye-popping distances, coupled with rainbow-like arcs capable of bringing rain. When he unleashed those 3s, fans turned their eyes toward the rafters and gasped when they swished nothing but net.
The only thing with better range is a Stratofortress bomber that can travel 5,000 miles at an altitude of 35,000 feet.
Just call Calvin “B-52.”
Baylor had a 40-34 lead in the third quarter. Another stratospheric launch and a baseline jumper triggered a rally that pulled the Tornado even with Baylor at 45-45 after three quarters.
“I’ve been encouraging him to let his natural ability take over,” Wadley said. “He and Jorden (Williams) are our seniors with the most experience. I tell them this team is going as far as they will lead it.”
His teammates dialed 911. Calvin answered.
“They wanted me to come on,” he said. “They were like, ‘It’s time.’ The whole team was with me. The shots fell. I felt it, I was hot and kept on shooting.”
Calvin’s 3s destroyed Baylor’s otherwise tough zone defense.
“(Baylor) plays such a good zone and covers so well, it’s like they’ve got seven guys out there,” Wadley said. “But we tell our kids they way to build a lead is by stop, score, stop, score, stop. That’s how you get those runs.”
The range exhibited by Calvin, who scored 62 points in the tournament, had McCallie faithful dancing in the aisles and shouting at the top of their lungs down the stretch.
It discombobulated the Red Raiders.
“You just can’t believe how far out he shoots,” Baylor coach Austin Clark said. “I can tell the guys, but they just can’t get it.”
With Baylor deploying an aggressive zone and McCallie swarming Red Raiders with its vaunted man-to-man, the arch-rivals battled evenly throughout the game. McCallie’s 63-55 lead with 37 seconds remaining was the biggest by either team.
The Blue Tornado got two quick 3s by Calvin and one by Williams for a 9-2 first-quarter lead. The Red Raiders got back-to-back 3s by Jeff Bowens for a 15-13 advantage, but Williams’ 3 – from almost as deep as Calvin’s ground-shakers – gave McCallie a 16-15 lead at the first break.
Baylor outscored the Tornado, 6-3, in the final 2:18 of the second quarter and went to the locker room trailing by 33-31.
In the third, Clay Born and Matt Clendenen made baskets, Gage Upshaw nailed a 3 and Sam Lupas dropped in a layup off a Born assist and the Red Raiders had a 40-34 lead.
The rest of the game was a real donnybrook.
Williams finished with 12 points and freshman Alex Clark, getting his first varsity minutes, scored 10 points.
Clendenen led Baylor with 18 points – he had 58 in three games – and 10 rebounds. Born added 14 points.
Baylor shot 47.7 percent (21 of 44) from the field and McCallie finished at 44.7 (21 of 47). McCallie’s shooting advantage was with the 3s – it made 8 of 19 for 42 percent and the Red Raiders hit only 6 of 22 (27 percent).
“I thought our guys gave a tremendous effort the entire ballgame,” Clark said. “McCallie was just better than us tonight.”
Notre Dame 96, Ooltewah 78: The Irish’s Stedmon Ford played, uh, like a Cadillac in the first half that put the Owls in a real bind.
Ford had 21 points at halftime, including five 3s and an eye-popping 18 of the Irish’s 27 second-quarter points in a dazzling performance that propelled Notre Dame (10-5) to a 48-36 lead at the break.
The cat-quick guard with the heavenly shooting touch finished with a game-high 26 points, giving him 56 in the tournament. Ford went 9-of-15 from the floor, including 6 of 9 from 3-point distance. He also had four assists, six steals and four turnovers.
That effort helped the Irish shoot 60 percent (38 of 60) from the field and 61.5 percent from 3-point distance and claim third place.
All five Notre Dame starters scored in double figures. Kealey Green scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Kareem Orr tossed in 20 points, Tyler Byrd 13 and Kywaun Davenport 12.
The Owls (10-4) got a solid 25-point game from Jacqueze Robinson, 15 from Antonio Jackson before fouling out, 14 by Ben Snider and 13 by Andrew Ware, who also had 16 rebounds.
Ooltewah shot 39 percent (26 of 66) and just 20 percent (3 of 15) on 3-point attempts.
Ooltewah cut Notre Dame’s lead to 80-75 with 3:59 remaining, but the Irish outscored the Owls, 16-3, the rest of the way.
Boyd-Buchanan 66, Chattanooga Patriots 40: The Bucs’ trifecta of Justus McMillan, Hall Allen and Austin Walker was way more than the Patriots could handle in the tournament’s game for fifth place.
McMillan led the Bucs (8-5) with a game-high 22 points, giving him 55 in the three-day tournament. Hall Allen finished with 13 points and Austin Walker added 12 for the Bucs, who outscored the Patriots, 28-10, in the second half.
Aaron Ambrosetti paced the Patriots (8-9) with 15 points. John Truax added 10 points.
North Jackson 54, Red Bank 52: The Chiefs (3-11) left town with a nice win – albeit for seventh place – after struggling mightily in their first two games.
Seth Rowe led North Jackson’s three-player, double-digit attack with 17 points. Andrew Kirk tossed in 16 points and Keyshawn Lawrence finished with 13.
Red Bank (4-11) lost all three tournament games by a combined 37 points – the Patriots routed the Lions, 68-41, on Friday – and got 13 points each by Malik Davis and Fred Matthews to wrap up its holiday schedule.
Baylor 15 16 14 12 – 57
McCallie 16 17 12 18 – 63
Baylor (57) – Clay Born 14, Matt Clendenen 18, Maum 2, Upshaw 8, Lupas 4, Bowens 6, Linehart 1, Seaberg 4.
McCallie (63) – Fritz 4, Jorden Williams 12, Jacobs 7, Jamaal Calvin 28, Couch 2, Alford, Alex Clark 10.
3-Point Goals: Baylor 6 (Born 2, Bowens 2, Clendenen, Upshaw); McCallie 8 (Clavin 6, Williams 2).
Third Place Game
Notre Dame 21 27 22 26 – 96
Ooltewah 10 26 23 19 – 78
Notre Dame (96) – Stedmon Ford 26, Kareem Orr 20, Kealey Green 22, Tyler Byrd 13, Kywaun Davenport 12, Carter, Mink 1, Darras, Harris 4.
Ooltewah (78) – Antonio Jackson 15, Jacqueze Robinson 25, Andrew Ware 13, Ben Snider 14, Presley 3, Fritz, Boyd 4, Maston 4, Bass.
3-Point Goals: Notre Dame 8 (Ford 6, Davenport 2); Ooltewah 3 (Robinson 2, Presley).
Fifth Place Game
Chattanooga Patriots 23 7 4 6 – 40
Boyd-Buchanan 14 14 16 22 – 66
Patriots (40) – Fears 2, Aaron Ambrosetti 15, Jones 8, John Truax 10, Howad 2, Birkhead, Porter, T.Murphy 3, J. Murphy, Kindiger, Howard.
Boyd-Buchanan (66) – Hall Allen 13, Justus McMillan 22, Cox 6, Austin Walker 12, Jenkins 7, Bruns, Arendale 2, Covington, Nason 4, Jackson, Antwine, Clarke.
3-Point Goals: Patriots 6 (Ambrosetti 3, Jones 2, T.Murphy); Boyd-Buchanan 5 (Allen 2, McMillan 2, Walker.
Seventh Place Game
Red Bank 10 15 13 14 – 52
North Jackson 15 10 14 15 – 54
Red Bank (52) – McConnell 9, Tucker 8, Malik Davis 13, Autry 2, W.Davis 6, Fred Matthews 13, Suttles 1.
North Jackson (54) – Andrew Kirk 16, Nevels, Tolliver, Keyshawn Lawrence 13, Seth Rowe 17, Chisenall 5, Smith 3.
3-Point Goals: Red Bank 4 (McConnell 3, W.Davis); North Jackson 3 (Kirk 2, Chisenall 1).
McCallie – Jamaal Calvin (MVP), Jorden Williams; Baylor – Matt Clendenen, Clay Born; Notre Dame – Stedmon Ford; Ooltewah – Jacqueze Robinson; Boyd-Buchanan – Hall Allen; Chattanooga Patriots – Donovan Jones.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org