Craig's Game-Winning 3 Lifts McCallie Over East Hamilton, 50-49

Blue Tornado Sophomore Leads All Scorers With 22 Points

Thursday, January 23, 2014 - by Larry Fleming

JaVaughn Craig was fearless from 3-point range Thursday night.

So, when East Hamilton sprung a leak in its 2-3 zone defense Craig decided to shoot one more for good measure.

Craig’s sixth 3-pointer with 14.3 seconds remaining turned into a big-time winner, the Blue Tornado’s C.J. Fritz deflected Mac Brower’s 3 at the buzzer and McCallie walked away with a 50-49 non-league victory over the visiting Hurricanes.

“No game should come down to the last shot,” Craig said. “But the coaches wanted to take the last shot. They trusted me and I trusted my teammates to get me open. When it left my hand it felt pretty good.”

Brower had drained a 3 with 1:42 left to give the Hurricanes a 47-45 lead.

McCallie’s Adrian Thomas made a layup to pull the Tornado (10-8) within two points.

East Hamilton’s Tracy Thompson dropped in a turnaround jumper in the lane with 37.9 seconds left.

McCallie (10-8) called a timeout with 28.2 seconds remaining.

“We drew up that play and executed it perfectly,” McCallie coach Dan Wadley said. “We wanted a double screen to free him up to get a 3 to win the game, and he buried it. We practice that play a lot, but don’t run it much in games. It’s an end-of-the-game type play.

“He executed it because he had been hitting his 3s.”

The Tornado worked the ball around East Hamilton’s zone and the last pass found Craig on the left wing.

No Hurricane player was close enough to contest Craig’s shot and the ball hit nothing but net, giving him a game-high 22 points – he made six 3s and went 4-for-4 from the foul line – and scored 11 points in the second half.

“Knowing coach Wadley, he’s going to call for a win,” Hurricanes coach Michael Stone said. “He has confidence in his players and we figured the play was going to Craig. We came out in a 2-3 zone and tried to defend him as best we could, but the kid stepped up and made a great play.”

One equally important happened a few seconds later.

After a timeout East Hamilton worked the ball down the court.

Brower dribbled right and back to his left before launching a long 3 under duress. Fritz, whose layup with just over five seconds left gave McCallie a 53-52 win over rival Baylor on Friday, got a piece of the ball and it fell well short of the target.

“Again, we won a game on the last possession with a defensive stop and both shots were air balls,” Wadley said. “We got a piece of that one tonight. We challenged them to dig in for 13 seconds and we could win the game, and they did. It was a tough shot and I was proud of that.”

Brower led East Hamilton (6-14) with 15 points, 11 coming in the second half and eight in the fourth quarter.

East Hamilton trailed by 31-21 at halftime and watched Craig hit a 3 to start the third quarter. The Hurricanes’ Quinn Griffith made a layup and the Tornado’s Adrian Thomas, another sophomore, hit one free throw to push the lead to 35-23.

Up to that point the Hurricanes had played ragged basketball, but, ironically that’s what Stone wanted.

“When you’re trying to make up for skill and athleticism that McCallie has, you have to make it ugly,” Stone said. “Ugly on our end is what we wanted. We couldn’t match up with them toe-to-toe. Their kids have been in some tough situations and (Craig) comes up with a clutch shot in a tough situation tonight.”

After Thomas’ free throw, the Hurricanes went on a 13-1 run, capped by Jordan Wingard’s back-to-back 3s, to tie the game at 36-all.

That man, Craig, nailed a 3 from the right wing and McCallie went into the final period with a 39-36 advantage.

Brower’s 3 from the top of the circle tied the game. His layup 25 seconds later gave the Hurricanes a 41-39 lead with 6:49 left. Tank Sparks’ free throw gave East Hamilton a three-point cushion.

Then Craig hit two free throws and Thomas, who finished with nine points, added a putback goal and free-throw line jumper and McCallie’s lead was 45-42 with 4:27 on the clock.

Kenny Bunton’s tough, spinning bank shot from 8-feet pulled the Hurricanes to within 45-44 at the 2:56 mark, setting up the hectic final moments of play.

“We’ve had some tough games recently, but tonight we competed and forced McCallie to hit a late shot to win,” Stone said. “That speaks to the character of this team. When you’re 6-15 it’s easy to sprint to the locker room and point fingers and have some jealousy, but I couldn’t be more proud of how hard our guys played tonight.”

After an opening quarter that pushed the limits of sloppy play, the Blue Tornado built their 10-point halftime lead on the strength of a 22-10 second period. Craig had eight points, including two 3s, in the quarter.

“When he doesn’t force his shots, he’s a really nice shooter,” Wadley said of Craig. “

McCallie returns to Division II-AA East/Middle Region play on Saturday when Pope John Paul comes to the Sports and Activity center.

East Hamilton next plays at rival Ooltewah on Friday in a District 5-AAA contest.

SUMMARY

East Hamilton                        11 10 15 13 – 49

McCallie                                  9 22 8 11 – 50

East Hamilton (49) – Thompson 9, Jackson, Lowery 2, Sparks 1, Bunton 6, Chacko 2, Wright 2, Wingard 6, Griffith 4, Brower 15, Beach 2.

McCallie (50) – Fritz 4, Bowman, Moxey, Craig 22, Thomas 9, Whitener 1, Alford 7, Clark 4, Atkins 1, Walker, McDonald 2.

3-Point Goals – East Hamilton 6 (Brower 3, Wingard 2, Thompson); McCallie 7 (Craig 6, Alford).

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)



McCallie Wins Big Over McMinn County

McCallie won their second straight game on Friday with a 49-6 win over McMinn County.   McCallie's high powered offence scores all 49 points in the first half.   Paul Silverblat scored on a 57 yard pass from JaVaughn Craig and on a 44 yard run.  Alex Trotter scored on a seven yard run and a 19 yard run.  Craig also scored on a 23 yard run.   ... (click for more)

CCS Football Earns Second Straight Shutout

The Chattanooga Christian School Charger defense earned their second shutout of the season with a 43-0 win over Lookout Valley.  The Charger defense held Lookout Valley to 132 total yards and scored twice.  The Charger defense scored a safety on a bad snap by Lookout Valley and Philip Sneller recovered a Lookout Valley fumble in the endzone for another defensive ... (click for more)

Plan Revived For 5-Story Boutique Hotel Next To The Walnut Street Bridge

Plans have been revived for a five-story boutique hotel next to the Walnut Street Bridge. Vision Hospitality Group said the yet-to-be named hotel will provide 90 rooms featuring high-end amenities and exemplary service in the city's art district. Plans for a similar hotel were announced in 2012, but the proposal was later withdrawn. The hotel is slated for 102 Walnut ... (click for more)

Grand Jury Says County Needs To Start "Immediately" On Funding A New County Jail

Members of the Hamilton County Grand Jury said in a final report that the county needs to start "immediately" on funding a replacement for the Hamilton County Jail. The report, read by Foreman Robert Smith, says, "The Jail is near and/or over capacity and understaffed!  Hard-working corrections officers are in constant danger.  Being responsible for 80-100 inmates per ... (click for more)

Better Plan For Walnut Street Hotel

Mitch Patel and his Vision Hospitality Group have unveiled a revised plan for a hotel on Walnut Street. It is much better than the one proposed two years ago. By having no curb cuts on Walnut Street, it makes that special block near the bridge more inviting and safer for pedestrians. Deliveries would be off Riverfront Parkway and hotel access (valet parking) would be off Aquarium ... (click for more)

Thanks For Making The Southern Brewers Festival A Success

Now that the dust has settled I'd like to thank Chattanooga for supporting the Southern Brewers Festival and making it yet another very successful event.    For those who do not know - the SBF benefits the Chattanooga chapter of Kids on the Block and the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.  As a partner helping the SBF with volunteers, sponsorships and the overall production ... (click for more)