Back at you McCallie.
The Blue Tornado won at Baylor by a point in overtime on Jan. 18.
On Saturday, Baylor returned the favor, pulling away in the final three minutes to calm the Blue Tornado, 48-42, in Division II-AA East/Middle Region basketball action before a packed house at McCallie’s Sports and Activity Center.
Coupled with a 50-48 victory over McCallie in a holiday tournament matchup in December, the Red Raiders have won two of three meetings this season with their bitter crosstown rivals.
The three games were decided by a total of nine points.
“This is a big-time rivalry,” Baylor’s veteran coach Austin Clark said. “They go to our place and win and we come to their place and win. I’m really proud of our kids because they finished the game tonight. At our place we didn’t do a good job and our players knew that. It ate at them for two weeks.
“This was a great team effort.”
In the last 30 games, McCallie has a slight 16-14 edge over Baylor and 25 have been decided by eight or fewer points and 11 by three or less. In the games dating to 2002, the average margin of victory is 6.3 points.
“This was a very big win for us,” Baylor’s Amedeo Giussani said. “We did a very good job defensively and that kept us in front of the game. That was a key in the game for sure.”
Once again Matt Clendenen led the Red Raiders (13-7, 3-3) with a game-high 16 points, including five in the fourth quarter.
Giussani finished with 12 points.
Clendenen and Giussani are both seniors.
Clendenen has put up 60 points on the Tornado in three games, including 23 at Baylor and 21 in the holiday tournament game at Chattanooga State. Giussani had 24 points in the three meetings.
“They did the same things over at their place, but we didn’t have good help-side defense and that gave them easier shots,” said McCallie’s C.J. Fritz, who scored a team-high 11 points. “Tonight we played better help-side defense and made it tougher on them, but they still got their points. Credit goes to them.”
Adrian Thomas was the only other player in double figure for McCallie (10-11), which dropped its second region game in as many days after winning four straight to open league play.
McCallie plays host to Father Ryan on Friday while Baylor entertains Brentwood Academy on the same night.
With the two defenses putting a premium on every possession, the Red Raiders went into the fourth quarter with a shaky 29-27 lead.
Sophomore Spencer King hit a running bank shot, beating JaVaughn Craig on the play, and converted a three-point play after being fouled. Thomas answered with a bucket for McCallie.
Sammy Lupas, another senior, turned a McCallie turnover into a layup to give the Red Raiders a 34-29 lead with 6:39 left. But Fritz, who beat Baylor in January with a driving, over-the-shoulder layup with six seconds left in overtime, nailed a 3-pointer.
Clendenen made a baby hook in the lane and McCallie’s Chauncey Alford scored on a driving layup, but missed the ensuing free throw – the Tornado were a paltry 2-for-10 from the stripe – after drawing a foul by Clendenen.
“Two of 10?” McCallie coach Dan Wadley asked. “I didn’t know it was that bad. You win and lose games at the foul line. It’s not like we don’t practice it because we do. Normally as a team we shoot 63 percent.”
McCallie sophomore Jordan Atkins dropped in a layup and tied the game at 36-all with 3:28 remaining.
Clendenen converted a three-point play and Cam Walker had a putback after a Fritz miss and McCallie trailed 39-38 at the 2:54 mark.
King’s acrobatic shot in close and Clendenen’s 3 from the left corner pushed Baylor’s lead to 44-38 with 1:53 on the clock.
Up 46-42, Giussani missed a free throw, but Clendenen skied for the rebound and flipped the ball to Lupas, who made a layup with 39 seconds left for the final margin.
“They wanted it more than we did tonight,” Wadley said. “They played with a lot more urgency, especially in the second half. Baylor played great, so give them all the credit in the world. This was our best defensive effort against them all year, but they had a good scheme and their defense hurt us some too. They covered up our shooters a little better with their defense.”
Craig, a sophomore, is a perfect example of that. Craig scored 29 points in the first two games against Baylor. He managed only four in the rubber game.
Baylor gave McCallie problems from the get-go. The Blue Tornado went scoreless for 6 minutes and 31 seconds while the Red Raiders built an 11-4 lead.
Clark liked how his Red Raiders played down the stretch.
“We made some free throws (3 of 5) and didn’t make too many turnovers,” he said. “In the last three or four minutes when we had the lead we were just looking for layups and fouls. We did a good job.”
Baylor 8 11 10 19 – 48
McCallie 4 12 11 15 – 42
Baylor (48) – Maize, Brogdon 4, Matt Clendenen 16, Seaberg 4, Upshaw 2, King 5, Lupas 6, Amedeo Giussani 12
McCallie (42) – C.J. Fritz 11, Bowman, Craig 4, Adrian Thomas 10, Whitener 3, Alford 2, Clark, Atkins 6, Walker 6.
3-point Goals – Baylor 4 (Clendenen 2, Brogdon, Giussani); McCallie 6 (Fritz 3, Thomas 2, Craig).
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)