The Rams (12-6) scored a mere 38 points Monday at McCallie, well-below their season average (64.4 ppg). They had a few scoring spurts. The squad’s suffocating defense stayed strong throughout, though, and that’s what ultimately lifted them to the one-point victory in its defensive battle with the Blue Tornado. It was the of game Tyner head coach Gerald Harris warns his team about. The kind where points are precious.
“I tell the guys all the time that I’ve always been a defensive guy,” Harris said. “They’re starting to under that on nights when we don’t have anything offensively, this is what’s going to win games. They’re starting to buy in.”
As little offensive production as Tyner had, though, the Blue Tornado had even less.
McCallie (9-11), coming off a disappointing 57-56 setback at Baylor of Saturday, didn’t have a single player score in double figures in its 38-37 loss to the Rams, registering the team’s lowest point total in nearly two months.
Coach Dan Wadley was quick to point out that Tyner had a lot to do with that, but the Blue Tornado certainly didn’t do itself any favors.
“We shot poorly from the inside,” Wadley said. “Some were contested, but we missed a lot of layups. I don’t think the kids are doing that on purpose — they’re trying to score — it was just one of those nights.”
Rams junior Alex Watson finished with three blocked shots, but his presence alone did enough to affect several shots in the paint.
“Not only the shots that he blocked, but just being there,” Harris said. “I always tell him to face the defense, don’t let them creep to the side and keep your hands up. Make them shoot shots they don’t normally shoot, and we’ll get the rebound. I think he did great job with it.
Rebounding was one area in which Tyner struggled down the stretch. McCallie dominated on the offensive glass in the contest’s closing minutes while trying to overcome its narrow deficit.
The Blue Tornado pulled to within one on senior Jamaal Calvin’s jumper with 55 seconds to play, and it had a chance — several, in fact — at the win in the game’s final seconds. Senior Jorden Williams missed a jumper from the high post, but Eric Wolf snagged the offensive rebound and fired up a put back. It clanged off back iron, but the 6-foot forward brought down another board and let loose another attempt. No Good.
“When the 3 balls aren’t falling and you struggle from the inside, you get what you saw tonight,” Wadley said. “Their defense had a lot to do with it. They’re well coached; Gerald does a great job.”
Senior Jemicah Bowman finished with a game-high 13 for the Rams, while freshman Devonte Jones added seven, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with just under two minutes to play. Junior Sadik Spence contributed six points on a pair of treys, while senior Chris Waller chipped in four.
Calvin and Wolf each scored nine points to lead McCallie, which has lost four of its last five, while junior Jorden Williams added five.
“Our whole thing was to contest every basket,” Harris said. “When they catch the ball, they need to have a hand in their face. Make them difficult shots and make them penetrate. If they can penetrate that’s fine; there will be help. Usually they shoot lights out, and I was just waiting to see that in the second half.
The Blue Tornado return to action tomorrow when it hosts Hamilton Heights Christian, while the Rams host District 5-AAA leading Ooltewah on Wednesday.