The McCallie basketball team normally has turned to its primary scorers down the stretch in games this season. Saturday night against rival Baylor, the Blue Tornado turned to the role players to hit the big shots.
In a game they could have won in regulation, the Blue Tornado received huge contributions from Nick Jacobs and freshman Adrian Thomas in pulling out a 65-63 overtime victory at McCallie.
The win improved McCallie to 3-5 in the Division II East/Middle Region and 2-1 in the series this season, having won in the Times Free Press Best of Preps championship game in December.
Saturday's game came down to free-throw shooting, which neither team did well. McCallie finished 18-for-30 at the line and was only 13-for-24 in the fourth quarter and overtime periods when the Red Raiders were forced to foul. Baylor (13-9, 3-4) was 13-for-24 for the game, but that included a 6-for-14 showing from senior Reggie Upshaw, who still finished with a game-high 32 points.
"I'm proud of the effort of our kids," McCallie coach Dan Wadley said. "It was very important for them to get this win, because we've lost so many close games this year."
Jorden Williams paced the Tornado (11-13) with 20 points, while Jamaal Calvin added 15. And Jacobs and Thomas combined for 20 points.
Thomas missed three free throws in the final minute that would have put the game away but came back to hit two clutch free throws in overtime.
"I didn't think I was ever going to hit one," he said. "My job on this team is to box out, get rebounds and putbacks. I'm glad I was able to help the team win, especially for the seniors."
McCallie jumped to a seven-point lead after a quarter, and it seemed to take the Red Raiders a while to match their rivals' intensity level. They fought their way back behind the hot shooting of Jeff Bowens, who scored 12 of his 20 points in the first half. He hit a pair of free throws to give Baylor a 25-19 edge with 1:23 left in the first half, only to see the Tornado score the final seven points to lead 26-25 at the break.
Both teams held considerable advantages in the second half. Baylor built a six-point lead in the third quarter, but the Tornado rallied for a 49-45 lead after baskets by Jacobs and Thomas. Baylor was forced to foul, but it paid off as the hosts hit only two of six down the stretch.
Clay Born hit a layup to trim McCallie's lead to two points, and then after two missed free throws by Thomas, Gage Upshaw rebounded and fed his brother, who crossed up his defender and hit a buzzer-beating layup to send the game into overtime.
McCallie never trailed in the extra period. C.J. Fritz banked in a 3-pointer on the first possession, and the hosts hit enough free throws -- 11 of 18 -- to get the win.
"We just had too many turnovers and didn't hit enough free throws," Baylor coach Austin Clark said. "I'm proud of the effort of our guys. McCallie scored first in overtime, which was very important, and we missed too many free throws down the stretch.
"I enjoyed our effort tonight; it was a typical Baylor-McCallie game."