It’s still the most intense high school rivalry in Hamilton County and there have been plenty of athletic contests between the two schools that went down to the wire or determined on the final play, but that was not the case at Baylor’s Jimmy Duke Arena and Austin Clark Court Friday night when McCallie stopped by for a visit.
The Blue Tornado struck first with a 3 from Tanner Shulman from the corner to start the game. McCallie had leads of 5-3 and 8-5, but when sophomore post player Nick Kurtz scored on back-to-back plays with just over five minutes remaining in the opening stanza, Baylor took the lead and McCallie never regained the advantage.
A 19-15 lead after the first stanza stretched to 34-22 and never got much closer as the Red Raiders stretched the final margin to 24 points in a resounding 71-47 victory.
Baylor had gotten off to a great start by winning its first 15 games, only to get derailed with a loss at Chattanooga Christian earlier in the week.
Coach Mark Price had said that his team didn’t play very well against the Chargers and didn’t tend to details like they had been, but they got back on track against the Blue Tornado as they improved to 16-1 overall and 6-0 in Division II, Middle-East Region play.
McCallie is now 14-5 overall and 4-2 in league play following Friday’s setback.
As has been the case for any Baylor-McCallie basketball game in recent years, parking places were scarce and seating in the Duke Arena was even more difficult to find, but it was a unique experience for the first-year leader of the Red Raiders.
“I’ve been part of some really big rivalries on the college level and this atmosphere here tonight was simply unbelievable,” Price said afterward.
“Jordan Clark was nervous all day as he’s been around for a few of these games, but this is a traditional long-term rivalry and I’m just super-honored to be part of it. I told our guys that the least important score was at halftime, but our goal was to simply win the third and fourth quarters and we were able to do that.
“It was just a concentrated effort from everyone tonight. We didn’t get that on Tuesday and we shot poorly from long range, but Chattanooga Christian has an outstanding team. I’m proud of how everyone contributed tonight. I thought we handled the emotion the right way and I thought we played better as the game progressed.
“We had two really good practices the last two days, but I just liked how we came out and executed our game plan,” Price added.
McCallie coach David Conrady felt like his Blue Tornado squad had the potential to give Baylor a run for the money, but things didn’t turn out as planned.
“I don’t think we were surprised by what Baylor did, but the game just didn’t go the way we had hoped it would go,” he said shortly after a post-game talk with his players.
“We weren’t able to get them uncomfortable with our defensive effort and it’s hard to keep young kids focused when things start going the wrong way. A big part of that was how well Baylor played. Coach Price had them ready to play. It’s a disappointing loss because it’s Baylor, but we also know that if we want to achieve some of our goals in our region, we’ll have to win a few on the road as well as all our home games.
“We weren’t able to do that tonight as we just didn’t play our best. We just didn’t execute like we wanted to execute and we didn’t stay with what we were trying to do when things got hard. I liked our effort as we played hard early, but things just didn’t go our way down the stretch,” Conrady added.
Beyuan Hendricks scored 24 points to lead the Red Raiders while Kurtz had 14. Blake Pruitt came off the bench to score 13 while Lorenzo White played a steady game and finished with nine.
Sophomore Eric Rivers scored 21 points to lead McCallie, including 19 in the second half when the outcome had all but been determined.
Anthony Watkins was also in double figures with 10.
Baylor had an unofficial 28-20 rebounding advantage as White had six and Hendricks five for the Red Raiders. Neill Dickey and Tony Jackson both snagged six for McCallie.
Both teams return to action with road trips to Nashville on Tuesday. Baylor will face MBA while McCallie will face Ensworth.
McCALLIE 15 7 10 15 -- 47
BAYLOR 19 15 14 23 -- 71
McCALLIE (47) – Dickey 4, Rivers 21, Watson, Walker 5, Ragland 1, Tobar, Watkins 10, Shulman 3, Jackson, Hardy 3.
BAYLOR (71) – Pruitt 13, Johnson, Hendricks 24, White 9, Moore 2, Reap, Linderman 6, Kurtz 14, Pippenger, Baker, Thoni 3.
3-POINT GOALS: McCallie 4 (Watkins 2, Shulman, Hardy); Baylor 6 (Pruitt, Hendricks 2, White, Linderman 2).
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)