Clutch FT Shooting Late Propels McCallie Past Pope John Paul, 58-48

Thomas' 18 Points Leads Blue Tornado, Now 4-0 In Division II-AA Play

Saturday, January 25, 2014 - by Larry Fleming

Thank goodness for clutch free-throw shooting.

With its offense struggling at times, McCallie relied heavily on fourth-quarter free throw shooting Saturday to post a 58-48 Division II-AA East/Middle Region basketball victory over visiting Pope John Paul at the Blue Tornado Sports and Activity Center.

“I’m really glad our guys can make free throws,” said McCallie’s Adrian Thomas, who led the Tornado with 18 points. “If we hadn’t made free throws we couldn’t have won that game.”

McCallie (10-9, 4-0 region), stayed atop the standings by hitting 17 of 31 free throws in the game, including 13 of 23 in the fourth quarter, while going the final 3 minutes and 10 seconds with just one field goal.

JaVaughn Craig, slowed somewhat by the Knights’ box-and-one defense, hit 5 of 6 charity tosses in the final period. C.J. Fritz made 3 of 4, but Winston Whitener, Thomas, Alex Clark, Jordan Atkins and Cam Walker combined to make 5 of 13.

Pope John Paul (14-10, 2-4) was 7 of 14 from the line – that’s the 10-point difference in the score.

“Pope John Paul played very good defense,” said Tornado coach Dan Wadley, who registered his 603rd career win while his team won its fifth in a row. “They played a box-and-one on JaVaughn and our guys had never seen that. We struggled early, but stayed with it.

“I thought we played excellent in the fourth quarter and kept hitting our free throws by getting the right people up there.”

While PJP’s defense bothered the Blue Tornado, the Knights weren’t exactly slicing up McCallie’s tenacious man-to-man defense. The Knights had 28 points going into the fourth quarter and trailed by nine points.

When Jordan Atkins and Whitener each hit 1 of 2 free tosses, sandwiching Mark Batsko’s layup, McCallie had a 41-30 lead with 6:32 left in the game.

Batsko had a put-back basket and Ricky Lang hit two free throws – he scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter – and McCallie’s lead was 43-34.

Lang made a bucket, but the Tornado’s Cam Walker, who scored 11 points, hit two free throws and Craig’s putback against produced an 11-point lead.

Craig’s bucket was the last field goal for McCallie until Walker’s layup with 1:46 remaining that maintained the 11-point spread at 52-41.

“I thought we struggled offensively,” PJP coach Kip Brown said, “and part of that was McCallie’s defensive effort. For whatever reason, we could not get in sync on offense. We weren’t patient, rushed things and didn’t play with much poise. They were out there guarding us, so you have to give them some credit.”

C.J. Fritz’s free throw at the 1:29 mark gave McCallie a 53-41 cushion. Down the stretch Craig went 4 for 4 from the line and Whitener added one, helping to keep the Knights at bay.

Dalton Smith hit a 3 and Lang had a putback and two free throws for PJP’s last seven points over the final 80 seconds.

McCallie’s defense had to make up for another scoring lapse in the second quarter.

Thomas’ corner 3 gave the Tornado a 26-11 lead, their biggest of the game, with 5:01 left in the first half.

However, the Tornado failed to score in the final 5:01 of the period and went 1:31 deep into the third quarter before Thomas ended the offensive drought with a putback. Less than a minute earlier Smith’s 3 started the third-quarter scoring and cut McCallie’s lead to 26-21.

“Between the second quarter scoreless stretch and holding them to one field in the final three minutes, I’d say we had our opportunities to get in the game or take the lead. We just didn’t capitalize.”

After building a 10-point, first-quarter lead, the Tornado managed just nine points in the second period and had a 26-18 halftime spread.

“We’re known for starting real slow,” said Thomas, who had nine first-half points and nine more in the third quarter. “Today part of that was their defense. We turned up our defense in the last three minutes.”

PJP had just one basket – a 3 by Smith with 1:20 left – over the final three minutes.

The Blue Tornado executed Wadley’s fourth-quarter plan pretty well and it helped preserve the victory.

“We told them if they’d just run the motion press break we can attack the rim, which we did,” Wadley said. “We made some layups and then got in a free throw contest.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t a contest at all.

McCallie returns to the court Tuesday, hosting Hamilton Heights, which finished third in the recent Scenic City Showcase.

The Blue Tornado has three region games remaining against Baylor, Father Ryan and Montgomery Bell Academy – the first two are at home.

SUMMARY

Pope John Paul                      7 11 10 20 – 48

McCallie                                17 9 13 19 – 58

Pope John Paul (48) – Batsko 4, Reed, Smith 6, Sypert, Whitner 2, Lanigan, McConnell, Cambridge 6, Ryan Hatten 18, Scholato, Ricky Lang 12, Hayes.

McCallie (58) – Fritz 5, Bowman, JaVaughn Craig 14, Adrian Thomas 18, Whitener 5, Alford 2, Clark 2, Atkins 1, Cam Walker 11, McDonald.

3-Point Goals – Pope John Paul 5 (Smith 2, Cambridge 2, Hatten); McCallie 3 (Thomas 2, Craig).

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


Chattanooga Women Shock No.4 Tennessee, 67-63

Before the season started some people across the country called Chattanooga women’s basketball coach Jim Foster crazy for scheduling three top 10 teams – Notre Dame (national runner-up) Stanford and Tennessee - before Christmas. After Wednesday night’s UTC shocking 67-63 home win against No.4 Tennessee before 4,160, those same folks might believe coach Foster is crazy like ... (click for more)

Lady Mocs Withstand Comeback To Beat Lady Vols, 67-63

Jim Foster has won more of his share of big games in his 37 years coaching women’s college basketball, first at Vanderbilt and then at Ohio State. He can now say he’s done the same at Chattanooga after his Lady Mocs handed the Tennessee Lady Vols their first loss of the season Wednesday night at McKenzie Arena in front of 4,160 bi-partisan fans. It may have been UTC’s ... (click for more)

10-Year-Old Boy Seriously Injured In Attack By Pit Bull At His Home In Sale Creek

A 10-year-old boy suffered serious injuries when he was attacked by a pit bull on Thanksgiving Day morning. At approximately 10:12 a.m. deputies were called to 175 Daugherty Ferry Road regarding a report of a dog attack on a child. On arrival the Sale Creek Fire Department found the child on the front porch of the residence.  The child’s father said his son came ... (click for more)

Alecia Driggins Faces Multiple Charges After Robbery And Hit-And-Run In East Ridge

East Ridge Police arrived on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at the East Ridge Flea Market at 6725 Ringgold Road in response to a reported pedestrian struck and hit and run incident. Once on the scene, police determined that the incident was actually a robbery. The victim advised police that a white woman claiming to be a police officer grabbed her purse and attempted to flee ... (click for more)

Lawlessness At Heritage Park

As a frequent visitor at Heritage Park in East Brainerd, I must say that the situation is becoming slightly out of control.  To start, parking is atrocious.  The unpaved lot contains nothing but loose gravel which has naturally given way to divots in the ground assuring you a few bumps.  Why isn't this area smoothed out?  It's not worth parking there anyways ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Why I Am Thankful 2014

Over 40 years ago I was a young sports writer when I came up with the notion of setting daily things aside, just for one day, and writing about why “I Am Thankful.” Every Thanksgiving I come up with my list and it is as much about me as it is about my gratitude for all things great and small. I can’t imagine approaching this day in any other way. Here we go … I AM THANKFUL for ... (click for more)