McCallie tops rival to win title
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.
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.
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.