McCal­lie tops ri­val to win ti­tle

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - SPORTS - BY KEL­LEY SMIDDIE STAFF WRITER

Af­ter McCal­lie’s first game in the 2017 Times Free Press Best of Preps bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment at Chat­tanooga State, Blue Tor­nado coach John Shul­man did not come across as pleased dur­ing his postgame com­ments, de­spite be­ing on the win­ning end.

He seemed much more sat­is­fied Satur­day af­ter his team de­feated Bay­lor 49-39 for McCal­lie’s third con­sec­u­tive Best of Preps tour­na­ment ti­tle.

“We had a meet­ing the next day and went over what we were do­ing on the de­fen­sive side of the ball,” Shul­man said of a Fri­day gath­er­ing af­ter his team had de­feated Notre Dame the day be­fore. “Notre Dame scored 20 on us in the first quar­ter. Bay­lor had 15 at half­time. I’d say our kids bought into what we’re do­ing.”

The Blue Tor­nado did a lot more press­ing full court last sea­son, but Shul­man has them di­aled back into more of a half-court de­fen­sive theme this sea­son. Van Buren County stand­out and Ten­nessee Tech signee Caden Mills scored 41 points in the

Ea­gles’ first-round win. He man­aged 15 against McCal­lie in a semi­fi­nal.

“We’ve got five se­niors start­ing,” Shul­man said. “Af­ter that we’re kind of in­ex­pe­ri­enced. We all got fa­tigued. We can’t run them for too long. We’ve got to get in bet­ter shape. But we’ve still got a lot of sea­son left.”

Af­ter a 12-12 first quar­ter against its long­time archri­val, McCal­lie’s de­fense was never bet­ter than in the mid­dle two quar­ters when the Red Raiders’ only field goal was Boris Ris­tanovic’s 3-point bas­ket from out front with 1:26 to go in the third quar­ter. Right be­fore that, the Blue Tor­nado were lead­ing 38-15.

“We missed some shots in the se­cond quar­ter that were pretty good shots,” Bay­lor coach Austin Clark said. “In these ri­valry games, you’ve got to make shots to stay con­nected. Then we got out of char­ac­ter tak­ing shots we don’t nor­mally take, try­ing to com­pete.”

Af­ter fall­ing be­hind by 23, Bay­lor (6-3) outscored the Blue Tor­nado 24-11 the rest of the way, but it was way too late.

“No­body was light­ing it up,” Clark said. “It’s tough to play as hard as they did when shots are not fall­ing.”

Jr. Clay, who will join Mills at Ten­nessee Tech next sea­son, was cho­sen the tour­na­ment’s most valu­able player. He led McCal­lie (15-0) with 15 points, in­clud­ing a third-quar­ter stretch in which he scored nine con­sec­u­tive.

Jor­den Star­ling added 11 points in the vic­tory, and Mac Hunt con­trib­uted eight.

Beyuan Hen­dricks topped the Red Raiders with 18 points. Tre Jack­son chipped in with eight.

The teams are sched­uled to play Jan. 12 at McCal­lie in the first of two Di­vi­sion II-AA East/Mid­dle Re­gion meet­ings in the reg­u­lar sea­son. Shul­man said he thinks they could end up meet­ing more times than that.

“Bay­lor is ex­tremely tal­ented,” Shul­man said. “They’re well-coached. They have a re­ally good bas­ket­ball team. They have the type of team that’s ca­pa­ble of win­ning a state cham­pi­onship. I’d love to see them in Nashville. Hope­fully we showed tonight that we have a chance to be there.”

Con­tact Kel­ley Smiddie at ksmid­die@ timesfreepress.com or 423757-6653. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @Kel­leySmid­die.

STAFF PHOTO BY DOUG STRICK­LAND

McCal­lie’s Jay Gibson, right, drib­bles around Bay­lor’s Patrick Urey dur­ing their Times Free Press Best of Preps bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment boys’ cham­pi­onship game Satur­day night at Chat­tanooga State. McCal­lie won 49-39.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY DOUG STRICK­LAND

Bay­lor’s Randy Brady looks to pass past McCal­lie’s Trip But­ler dur­ing their Times Free Press Best of Preps bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship game Satur­day night at Chat­tanooga State.

McCal­lie bas­ket­ball coach John Shul­man shouts to play­ers dur­ing their Times Free Press Best of Preps bas­ket­ball tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship game.

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