Baylor senior Reggie Upshaw on Saturday made his return to the court for the first time in 14 games and wound up with the most points. But it was freshman younger brother Gage Upshaw who ended up scoring the most important points.
Gage made both ends of a one-and-bonus situation with five seconds remaining, which provided enough cushion that it made Jamaal Calvin’s 3-pointer from the left wing at the buzzer meaningless. The Red Raiders edged McCallie 57-56 in a Division II-AA East/Middle Region basketball game at Baylor.
Baylor (9-7, 2-2) had taken a 55-53 lead when Reggie Upshaw scored in the lane on an inbounds play with 40 seconds remaining. McCallie called time out with 35.1 seconds left.
After working the ball around against the Red Raiders’ man-to-man defense, the Blue Tornado’s C.J. Fritz missed a 3-point shot from the left corner with eight seconds to play.
“They went man on us right there at the end and it kind of confused us,” McCallie coach Dan Wadley said. “We had a set play, but we didn’t run it right.”
Gage Upshaw was fouled in the scramble for the rebound.
“I was confident,” his brother said. “I knew he was going to make them. I told him to be sure and put enough arch on his shot. He has problems in practice shooting them dead at the rim.”
Calvin responded by connecting on his fifth 3 of the game. But unlike last year at McCallie when his buzzer-beater won it, this one didn’t matter.
“We’ve seen Jamaal do that for four years,” Baylor coach Austin Clark said. “But that time instead of chasing him, we wanted to get as far away from him as we could.”
Reggie Upshaw made Baylor’s first basket when he drove the lane for a layup at 6:46 of the first quarter. He showed no ill effects playing on the ankle he fractured late in football season and rebroke in the second basketball game of the year.
“I’m not where I want to be,” he said, “but it was better than the first time I came back.”
Upshaw said a goal coming into the game was to get his teammates involved, but no doubt he was looking for his shot.
“Scorer’s instinct, I guess,” Reggie said.
That instinct helped him total 31 points, including two dunks and two 3-point goals. He had 18 of the Red Raiders’ 29 points at halftime.
“He’s not in condition yet, but I thought he played with a lot of heart tonight,” Clark said. “I don’t think I could’ve kept him out of this game once the doctor cleared him to go. I really thought he would play well because he’s a competitor. I thought he would do what it takes to win, and he did. I just hoped he would start well, and he did. He made some plays and got his confidence up.”
Wadley said his team’s game plan was to try to play physically against Upshaw within its man-to-man scheme.
“He’s a heck of an athlete, probably the best in the city,” Wadley said. “We thought about going zone, but they’ve got good shooters, too. It was a typical Baylor-McCallie game. Sometimes it goes our way; sometimes it doesn’t.”
Matt Clendenen gave Upshaw the best scoring support with 10 points. Switzerland-born Amedeo Giussani and Clay Born each made two 3-point goals — Giussani’s coming in the final 3:17.
“If I come free,” Guissani said, “I’ll shoot them.”
Calvin’s 20 points topped McCallie (9-10, 1-4). Nick Jacobs scored 14, and Jorden Williams and Fritz added 10 each.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.