There were times Friday in which the McCallie basketball team showed signs of hanging with a top opponent — this time Division II-AA region foe Ensworth.
Unfortunately, there were many other times Friday in which the visiting Tigers showed why they were two-time defending state champions -- many more.
Led by the contributions of all 10 players who dressed -- but mainly Corn Elder -- the Tigers defeated the Blue Tornado 79-67. The game teetered on a blowout midway through the fourth quarter, but the final margin was softened by a late McCallie run.
Elder totaled 25 points, four assists, three steals and two blocks and spearheaded a 23-5 second-quarter run that opened the margin.
"We weren't playing smart, and at times there was a lack of effort and execution," McCallie coach Dan Wadley said. "We wanted to zone them a bit because they don't always shoot well on the road, but we didn't get out on their shooters and we have to correct that."
Ricky Bowers' mentality as the Ensworth coach is simple: Play hard, or watch others play hard. It's an effective strategy, one that at times led to five new players running to the scorers' table to check in.
He definitely wasn't happy about the fourth-quarter McCallie run that cut a 20-point lead in half.
"The last part of the game, we turned the ball over, we missed free throws," Bowers said. "We were ahead 74-54 and they cut it to 10, and not only did we not get any points --- we didn't get any shots.
"It was a nice quality road win. McCallie is going to be good; their guards are as good as anybody's."
McCallie did force 20 turnovers in the game, but Ensworth pounded the boards for 15 offensive rebounds and its aggressive style was just too much Friday.
Jamaal Calvin and C.J. Fritz each scored 16 points for the Blue Tornado, while Jorden Williams added 13.
"We made the run at the end to make it respectable, but we don't want respectable," Wadley said. "The guys that are going to play the hardest are going to play for us."