McCallie basketball coach Dan Wadley exited a jubilant locker room Saturday night and shouted, "That wasn't pretty, but we'll take it!"
The Blue Tornado went against their preferred style of play during their Division II state quarterfinal matchup against visiting Memphis University School, milking most of the fourth quarter in a 57-49 victory. By outlasting the Owls, McCallie advances to Friday's semifinals at Lipscomb University in Nashville.
"It was hard out there, because our game is running," said McCallie junior guard C.J. Reese. "In practice, Coach is always like 'Push the ball! Push the ball!' So we get that in our head, but we're also smart enough to know there are times you need to slow the ball down. You've got to be willing to do anything to win."
A driving layup by Reese with 6:46 remaining gave McCallie a 48-42 lead and capped a 13-4 run. Wadley then elected to slow the pace, with the Blue Tornado's next basket being a Chad Lee putback with 3:24 left that gave them a 51-44 advantage.
"We don't like having to do that," Wadley said. "We practice what is called stop, score, stop, and that's what we did early in the fourth quarter. We got it up to six or eight, and then it became them chasing us."
Reese led the Blue Tornado with 17 points, while Lee added 13 and Jay Meachem 11. Jamaal Calvin hit a long 3-pointer just before the first-quarter buzzer and Cordell James canned a 3-pointer at the halftime horn to not only give the hosts a double dose of momentum but six needed points in the end.
Danny Galvin led the Owls with 23.
McCallie improved to 18-7 in Wadley's fifth season and is making a third trip to Lipscomb in his tenure. Each of the past two trips ended in semifinal setbacks.
"We're not satisfied just going," Wadley said. "We want to win this thing, and we think we've got a good chance. I like our group, and I think our kids play hard."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.