The momentum gained from winning a second straight Best of Preps tournament title on Dec. 29, did McCallie little good Friday when the Blue Tornado hosted Father Ryan at the Sports and Activities Center.
The Irish unleashed an in-the-paint onslaught and pulled away in the fourth quarter to defeat the Blue Tornado, 60-49, in Division II-AA East/Middle Region basketball action.
“That’s what we do all the time,” Father Ryan coach Doug Bontrager said. “We struggled to score in the first half, but were a lot more effective in the second half.”
When Jamonte Graham hit a 10-foot turnaround jumper with 1:51 left in the third quarter to give the Irish (11-3, 2-0) a 39-36 lead, that was Father Ryan’s last field goal outside the shadow of the rim. Everything else was either a point-blank layup or a putback from 2 to 4 feet.
The Irish got 17 layups or putbacks in the game. The longest shots they attempted in the final 10 minutes of play were from the free-throw stripe, and the Irish were 5 of 6 on freebies in the final 3:57 while protecting a double-digit lead.
“We’ve seen that before,” McCallie coach Dan Wadley said. “We played them the last two years and held them to 25 points in both games. But, the difference tonight was personnel and effort. They wanted to win and forced their will on us. We didn’t give the effort tonight, and while I’m disappointed in that, I’m not taking anything away from Father Ryan because they played a tremendous game.”
Six-foot-2-inch Slate Rider led the Irish with 16 points and Graham added 10.
McCallie (6-5, 0-1) got a game-high 27 points from Jamaal Calvin, but no teammate scored more than five points.
And Calvin had a sub-par shooting effort against the Irish defense.
“We put four or five different guys on him and hoped somebody could find a way to get their arms up without him scoring,” Bontrager said. “I just kept switching people and thinking, ‘Please, somebody guard him.’ He’s just really good.”
Calvin was 9-of-23 from the field and hit five 3s.
“Give it to them,” Calvin said. “They pressured us and their defense is what caused our poor shooting. In the fourth quarter, their guy (Rider) forced me to get off some bad shots. Their defense was on.”
Wadley also credited Father Ryan’s defensive effort, which helped extend the Irish winning streak to four games.
“They’ve always been good defensively,” Wadley said. “They sagged off and their effort to cover up our shooters was real good. Give them credit for that.”
Father Ryan and McCallie both scored 20 points in the first half, but the Irish put up 40 second-half points and outscored the Blue Tornado by eight points in the fourth quarter. The dominant Irish attack was right at the belly of McCallie’s man-to-man defense.
“That’s our plan all the time,” Bontrager said. “We try to get easy shots. Their strength is their guards and on the other end since they’re playing a bunch of guards we had to exploit that and score inside a little bit.”
A little bit?
The Irish’s inside hammering kept up for 32 minutes and McCallie could do little to defend backdoor passes and or shut off lanes to the basket.
McCallie, which defeated rival Baylor last weekend for the 2012 BOP championship, went up 13-10 on Calvin’s first 3 of the game. Father Ryan got a short turnaround jumper from Rider and a fastbreak layup off a steal by Graham to pull within 13-12 as the quarter ended.
The Blue Tornado scored seven quick points – five by Calvin – to start the second quarter, but failed to score in the final 5:39 before halftime.
Shut out for the first 3:15 of the quarter, the Irish scored eight straight points, including a right-corner 3 by Sean Rollins, to tie the game at 20 at halftime.
Trevor Graham’s 3-pointer from the right baseline gave Father Ryan its first lead of the game at 25-22 with 6:48 left in the third quarter. The Blue Tornado scored eight of the next 10 points and had a 30-27 advantage at the 5:24 mark.
Trailing 36-35 after Calvin’s driving layup, the Irish finished the quarter on a 6-2 run and had a 41-38 lead going into the final eight minutes.
“The game was tight going into the fourth,” Wadley said. “But I really thought their energy was still there. They wanted it more than we did.”
Father Ryan outscored McCallie, 11-2, starting the final quarter – five different players scored in the first 4:03 of the period – and opened a 52-41 lead. McCallie’s lone points came on a Calvin 3-pointer with 5:28 remaining.
Calvin hit another 3 with 3:25 left to slow the Irish’s decisive run, but the Tornado scored just five more points, including Zak Hobbs’ 3 with 24 seconds left, the rest of the game.
“We didn’t meet any of Father Ryan’s effort,” Wadley said. “We’re a blue-collar team. We have to tie up the boots and go to work in every quarter, on every possession. We didn’t do that tonight.
“When we played great defense in the first half and held them to 20 point s, 10 of those points came on transition and turnovers. Father Ryan actually executing the offense produced 10 points. Then, we just let up.”
Father Ryan 12 8 21 19 – 60
McCallie 13 7 18 11 – 49
Father Ryan (60) – Phillips 5, Rollins 9, Jamonte Graham 10, T.Graham 9, Stevens 3, Slate Rider 16, Connolly 8, Ariola, Bauer, Bontrager.
McCallie (49) – Fritz 2, Williams 5, Moxey 3, Jacobs 2, Jamaal Calvin 27, Clark 2, Hobbs 3, Wolf 5, Alford.
3-Point Goals: Father Ryan 2 (Rollins, T.Graham); McCallie 8 (Calvin 5, Moxey, Hobbs, Wolf.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)