For the only time this season, the scores in McKenzie Arena were insignificant.
The smiles from the players and laughs from the fans were much more important -- and entertaining -- than the basketball competition during the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's Blue-Gold Scrimmage on Tuesday night.
Lady Mocs coach Wes Moore determined that a student dressed as Waldo from "Where's Waldo" won the costume contest. Mocs coach John Shulman put freshman Gee McGee on the spot and had him dance at center court.
Supporters were selected as guest coaches, and a practice player who isn't listed in the program or media guide nearly led the men's Gold team to a victory in a 40-37 loss to the Blue squad.
"It's tough to play the Blue-Gold because you want them to have fun, then I'm over on the bench saying I want this and that," Shulman said. "It's good for our kids to be out there and see them smile and have a good time."
Montel Lavelanet, a freshmen from Clarksville Academy who only practices with the Mocs and will not travel, hit back-to-back 3-pointers, made a steal and was fouled on a last-second 3 to steal the show at the end.
Shulman shouted from the bench, "If you make all three, the Gold team runs tomorrow," before Lavelanet missed the first free throw.
"Seeing Montel come off the bench and light us up -- that was my highlight," said junior Zaccheus Mason, who had his own set of highlights. "We weren't expecting that at all."
Mason scored eight points and grabbed three rebounds in the 20 minutes of action -- the second period played with a running clock. Six of the points came on 3s from Mason.
"That's been one of my goals this summer is to work on my outside shooting," Mason said. "The more [Shulman] sees it going in, the more he'll let me shoot it."
Senior center Drazen Zlovaric scored 10 points, freshman point guard Farad Cobb scored nine and sophomore Ronrico White had eight.
Despite the light-hearted affair, it's apparent the guards have instructions to throw the ball inside, and they followed those instructions.
"It's a lot different than last year because that was our emphasis and we talked about it, but it never seemed to happen," Zlovaric said. "We have young guys who have bought in and throw it inside."
The Lady Mocs know that's exactly how they'll play, too -- inside, then out. Junior forward Faith Dupree hit all five of her field-goal attempts and a free throw for the Blue team, which lost 21-9 to the Gold team led by junior forward Ashlen Dewart's 10 points inside.
"With us having an exhibition game Thursday [against Lee University], we didn't feel quite a bit of need to get out in front of fans and turn the lights on," Moore said. "It was still fun to be out in front of people who support us -- a pretty good crowd -- and it's good for our kids to get out there, be loose and have some fun."
Contact David Uchiyama at email@example.com or 423-757-6484. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/UchiyamaCTFP.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...
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