Notre Dame worked itself into a 27-20 lead with 3:45 left in the second quarter.
McCallie had the Irish right where it wanted the Irish.
The visiting Blue Tornado’s full-court pressure defense took a toll on the winless Fighting Irish in the second half and coach Dan Wadley’s run-and-gun ballers went on to hammer Notre Dame, 68-51, behind an impressive double-double by sophomore Adrian Thomas on Tuesday at Jim Phifer Gym.
In an earlier girls game the Lady Irish knocked off Girls Preparatory School, 41-29, handing the Bruisers their first loss in eight games opening the season.
“We’re known for running,” said Thomas, who scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. “We wear people down by pushing the ball. Late in the first half they started slowing down and we just kept pushing.”
Down 27-20, the Blue Tornado (4-2) used a 9-1 run to grab a 29-28 lead – their first since Thomas’ putback for a 2-0 advantage 38 seconds into the game. Thomas had six of the nine points in the Tornado’s second-quarter spurt.
Notre Dame’s A.J. Flemister hit one of two free throws and the teams headed into halftime tied 29-all.
Maybe the Irish didn’t know it, but they were in a heap of trouble.
“That was the tale of two halves,” McCallie coach Dan Wadley said. “I kept telling our kids we’ll wear them down. We’ve got 10 guys and 50 fouls if we have to use them. We pressured them all over the floor and Notre Dame’s shots started coming up short.
“They were tuckered.”
Notre Dame (0-6) scored just 22 second-half points and only 10 in the fourth quarter while McCallie was still going strong with 21 points.
"We have had only four practices and two games with our full team," Irish coach J.P. Nerbun said in a text message Friday, referring to several players who were with the Irish's football team that made a drive to the Class 3A quarterfinals. "We have high expectations this year, thus I have scheduled the most challenging teams I cold find in Middle and East Tennessee. Mental toughness and physical conditioning are our two main issues in last night's game.
"The guys are starting to believe in the system more and more and play better team basketball thatn I have seen in my time at Notre Dame. Last night we did not play in the system and were fortunate some shots fell in the first half that kept us in the game."
The Irish were down 38-37, but McCallie closed the third quarter with a 7-4 run – JaVaughn Craig capped it with a 3 with 1.4 seconds on the clock – and headed into the final eight minutes of play with a six-point advantage.
With Notre Dame’s legs withering and more and more shots not finding the mark, McCallie outscored the Irish 10-0 to start the final quarter and Thomas and Jordan Atkins each had four points in the offensive spree.
Notre Dame finally scored on Kealey Green’s bucket 4:46, but Green was slapped with a technical foul for jawing with a McCallie player. Thomas made two free throws at the other end and McCallie’s lead was 59-43 with 4:44 left.
By that time the Blue Tornado had the Irish completely flustered.
“They were getting after each other,” Thomas said.
Said Wadley, “Our guys take pride in being in shape. We do this every day in practice. We had guys playing all over the floor. It’s hard to scout us because we don’t run many set plays.”
Craig finished with 12 points, including three 3s in the third quarter, and Atkins added 10 points.
Tyler Byrd paced the Irish with 21 points, including 14 in the first half when he hit all three of his 3-pointers. Flemister added 14 points, 10 of which came in the first half.
GPS went into Thursday’s action averaging 61.7 points per game – the Bruisers had a season-high 70 against East Ridge in a 36-point win – while giving up 37.0 that includes 52 points by Sequatchie County.
Notre Dame (5-1) wasn’t about to back off.
The Lady Irish took a shaky 13-12 lead into the dressing room at halftime, thanks in large part to Adia Colvin’s five points – the only points she scored all night.
It was a 23-22 ballgame – Notre Dame had the one-point edge – going into the fourth quarter.
Taelor Hill, who had six first-half points, scored that many in the final eight minutes as the Lady Irish steadily pulled away from the cold-shooting Bruisers. Hill finished with 14 points, the only player from either team to reach double figures.
GPS sophomore Sydney Shutters scored five of her team-high nine points in the fourth quarter.
Girls Preparatory School 6 6 10 7 – 29
Notre Dame 4 9 10 18 – 41
Girls Preparatory School (29) – Hams 8, Sydney Shutters 9, Williams 4, Ware 6, Crownover 2, Morgan, Hudson.
Notre Dame (41) – Cantrell 8, Ripper 4, Wittler, Taelor Hill 14, Bouchard 4, Hoffer 2, Colvin 5, Siler 4.
3-Point Goals: Girls Preparatory School 1 (Shutters); Notre Dame 3 (Cantrell 2, Colvin).
McCallie 10 19 18 21 – 68
Notre Dame 16 13 12 10 – 51
McCallie (68) – Fritz 2, Moxey, JaVaughn Craig 12, Adrian Thomas 25, Whitener 6, Alford 7, Clark, Jacoway, Jordan Atkins 10, Lewis 2, , Littlejohn, Baird, Walker 2, McDonald 2.
Notre Dame (51) – Orr 2, Green 8, A.J. Flemister 14, Davis 1, Tyler Byrd 21, Grannon, Harris 3, Westoff.
3-Point Goals: McCallie 2 (Craig 2); Notre Dame 5 (Byrd 3, Flemister 2).
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)