Just as head coach Dan Wadley and his staff expected, McCallie didn’t look sharp early on in Thursday evening’s game against Boyd-Buchanan, which ended the team’s 12-day layoff.
It’s not how you start, though. It’s how you finish.
“We had talked about it as coaches that there was going to be a lot of rust we had to work through,” Wadley said. “When we hit shots we look like a good team. When we don’t hit shots we’re not very good.”
Wadley’s squad scored just 11 points in the opening period, but thanks to an even worse first-quarter performance by Boyd-Buchanan, the Blue Tornado (4-4) were in control throughout the first half of Thursday’s opening round game in the Best of Preps Tournament at Chattanooga State.
The Buccaneers (7-4), who trailed by 12 at the break, pulled to within seven midway through the third quarter, prompting a McCallie timeout at the 4:16 mark, but that’s when the Blue Tornado backcourt finally found its stride.
“We blitzed them,” Wadley said. “Our guards started hitting some shots. I told them shoot it if you’ve got it. You’ve got to take open shots, quit hesitating. We just have to have confidence. Jamaal took over. It was good to have Jorden hit a couple 3s too.”
Junior guard Jamaal Calvin drained a 3-pointer immediately following the timeout, and senior Jorden Williams added another trey moments later. McCallie strung together a 17-5 run to close the third period, and eventually cruised to a 60-43 win.
“We were trying to shade their shooters well and keep track of them, but we kind of lost them coming out of that timeout,” Buccaneer coach Cole Rose said. “That run made the difference in the game. It was back and forth and we were kind of mounting a comeback.”
Calvin and Williams each finished with 17 points to lead the Blue Tornado, while senior forward Eric Wolf chipped in 10. Calvin, who scored just five points in the first half, scored eight in the decisive third quarter, including a fourth-quarter jump shot to extend McCallie’s advantage to 20.
Boyd-Buchanan’s Hall Allen finished with a game-high 18, including four 3-pointers, while Justus McMillan added 11.
The Buccaneers scored just five points in the opening quarter, and after pulling to within 13-9 early in the second quarter, McCallie closed the first half on a 12-4 run.
“The big difference is that they had some really good runs and we never quite put one together,” Rose said. “I think their physicality really bothered us, too. To be successful with our size, we’re going to have to hit shots. If we hit more of them tonight it’s a better game, especially in the first quarter. It would have been really helpful to see a couple of those go down.”