It’s been a tough two-week stretch for coach John Shulman and his McCallie basketball team as they lost two games in a row after starting off the season with 17 straight wins.
The Blue Tornado had a makeup game with Montgomery Bell Academy at McCallie Monday night and the home team got back on the winning track with a 56-42 victory.
With the win, McCallie improves to 18-2 overall and 4-2 in region play while MBA is now 13-3 overall and 3-2 in league play.
Shulman always urges his kids to play hard and they responded to his challenge Monday night. And he was a much happier coach when the final horn sounded.
“It’s been a long week and a half as we lost our last two games. This was a makeup from last week and we have Brentwood Academy here tomorrow, but I challenged my guys to play hard tonight and they did,” he suggested outside the McCallie dressing room after the game ended.
“We came out with a different level of energy and played harder than we have in a long time. Good things seem to happen when you play hard, but we were just trying to get out mojo back after two tough losses.
“This was a big game for us, but it was all about us getting stops on the defensive end. Mac Hunt and Trip Butler made some big shots and I was really proud of the way Junior Clay responded after having a tough time his last game.
“We had success in this game because we played hard. It’s all about effort, but we got back to playing McCallie basketball and we got some good results,” he added.
The Blue Tornado never trailed in this game and quickly raced to a 6-0 in the first two minutes when Jorden Starling scored two layups and Butler one. Starling converted another layup at the end of the quarter to give McCallie a 17-10 lead after the first stanza.
Thomas Carr converted a four-point play to get the Big Red within 17-14 at the start of the second period before McCallie scored seven unanswered points for a 10-point lead with 4:56 to play.
Clay converted a three-point play with 2:47 left for a 27-16 McCallie lead before a pair of free throws by Ross Johnson and a 3 from the wing by Carr trimmed the difference to 27-21 at intermission.
Shulman had been on the officials in the first half and finally got the technical foul he deserved at the end of the half.
Drew Weikert made both charity tosses to start the second half before scoring five straight points to get MBA within a point at 33-32 with 33 seconds left in the third before Hunt canned a 3 from the wing to put McCallie up by four with one quarter remaining.
Weikert sank another 3 with 5:41 to play as MBA got within 40-37, but McCallie put things out of reach with a 14-3 run in the next five minutes.
Freshman Eric Rivers scored on a drive from the wing in the final minute to give the Blue Tornado its’ biggest lead of the game for the final score of 56-42.
MBA coach Kevin Anglin knew his team was in for a tough assignment playing a team like McCallie on the road. He felt like his team put themselves in a position to possibly win, but the shots didn’t fall when matters got close.
“I thought we hung in there and even had a chance to take the lead in the second half, but we missed a couple of contested layups and simply didn’t take advantage of our opportunities. I don’t think the final score is any indication of how close this game really was,” he said shortly after the game ended.
“We missed those key shots and were forced to chase at that point and that was to McCallie’s advantage. I’m sure that we didn’t play our best game tonight, but I’m sure that McCallie had a lot to do with that. We just have to keep working as this league doesn’t get any easier,” he said in reference to his team’s next game on Thursday against Brentwood Academy.
Starling scored 17 points to lead the McCallie scoring, despite missing some key minutes with lower back issues. Clay was next with 15 while Butler finished with 10. Hunt added nine points.
Weikert scored 14 points to lead MBA while Carr was also in double figures with 10.
McCallie also had an unofficial 29-17 advantage on the boards as Jay Gibson, Starling and Clay all grabbed six for McCallie. Alexander Roberts was tops for MBA with seven.
MONTGOMERY BELL ACADEMY 10 11 11 10 -- 42
McCALLIE 17 10 9 20 -- 56
MBA (42) – Allen 2, Weikert 14, Okai-Tetteh, Jackson, Versa 3, Francis, Nutter 2, Roberts 4, Carr 10, Meriwether, Montana 3, Johnson 2, Taylor 2.
McCALLIE (56) – Starling 17, Walker, Clay 15, Butler 10, Gibson, Hunt 9, Shulman, Hardy, Watkins 3, Dickey, Rivers 2, Watson, Albritton, Jackson, Lail, Ryce.
3-POINT GOALS: MBA 4 (Weikert 2, Versa, Montana); McCallie 3 (Hunt 2, Watkins).
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)