Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Notre Dame's Tim Vaughn (1) goes up for a layup during the boys Best of Preps tournament semi final game between McCallie and Notre Dame at East Hamilton high school on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021 in Ooltewah, Tenn.

Tyner and McCallie will meet in the championship round of the Times Free Press Best of Preps basketball tournament Wednesday, though each took a distinctly different route to get there.

While the Blue Tornado led from start to finish in a 51-23 semifinal win over Notre Dame, the Rams had to rally from 11 down late in the third quarter to hand rival Howard its first loss, 42-41.

Tyner (10-4) trailed 10-2 five minutes into the game, rallied to go up one in the second quarter but was nearly knocked out after the Hustlin' Tigers (8-1) used a 17-4 run that started with Jalen Taylor's 3-pointer with 2:30 left in the second quarter and ended with back-to-back driving layups from Mark Greer with 1:50 to go in the third.

(READ MORE: Final scores and photos from Tuesday's Best of Preps basketball tournament)

It was then Tyner coach E'Jay Ward decided to show a little tough love.

"I had to get into them a little bit," Ward said. "I tried to let them do what they do and there are already enough emotions in this game, but sometimes there's a time for tough love and they went out there and responded."

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McCallie vs. Notre Dame on Dec. 28, 2021

Nehemiah Robinson started the rally with a driving basket and Keelan Jackson followed with a 3-pointer to end the period down just six. The Howard lead was seven when Robinson scored in the lane, Xavier Fisher converted a three-point play after a turnover and Jackson dunked off a steal from Biship Smith to tie the game at 36.

Moments later, freshman Rodney Henderson hit a short jumper in the lane for a 40-38 Tyner lead and, after a Jackson blocked shot, Henderson drove for two more and a four-point lead. The lead was one after Tyner's MyQuise Thomas hit a 3-pointer and, after a missed one-and-one free throw, the Rams had one last chance with four seconds left but Greer's shot from just outside the lane at the buzzer fell off.

"This is a Tyner-Howard game, so this kind of game was expected," Ward said afterward. "It was a pretty ugly game but my boys fought through adversity and that's pretty much our story. No struggle, no story. We really embraced that and came out with the win."

McCallie (13-1) earned its finals berth with its defense, which constantly frustrated Notre Dame's two main threats, wings Cole McCormick and Tim Vaughn. The Blue Tornado held McCormick, who hit 10 3-pointers in scoring 34 points in Monday's first-round win over Signal Mountain, to four points and the slashing Vaughn to just seven.

"I thought we were outstanding defensively," McCallie coach David Conrady said. "They are good. They've got the McCormick kid, who can shoot the ball like crazy, and Timmy is a great player and they are surrounded by other really good players, so we knew we were going to have to be locked in defensively."

That defense, anchored by 7-footer David Craig, made up for a lackluster offensive effort in the first half, which saw McCallie lead just 15-10 at intermission. The lead was still five, though, with 2:45 remaining in the third period after McCormick hit his only trey of the game, but Kollin Claridy drove for a three-point play and followed with another strong drive as the lead grew to double digits and never fell below 11 the rest of the way.

"Offensively they got us completely out of sorts and we didn't really get comfortable until halfway through that third quarter," Conrady said. "Wilson Rankin and Cullen Claridy did an outstanding job in that quarter and I can't say enough about David Craig. He blocked shots, got rebounds and early in the game we went to him and he scored the ball."

Craig led the Tornado with 17 points, including a pair of second half thunderous dunks, with Claridy adding 10 and Rankin nine.


Consolation games

Ooltewah 69, Signal Mountain 55: Trey Lester scored 21 points, including 10 in a first quarter that saw the Owls race out to a 25-17 lead. Keyshawn Corbin added 20 points, all but five of them coming in the third quarter, with Delean Petty adding 14 points for Ooltewah (4-6). Andrew Matukewicz topped Signal Mountain with 15 points, followed by Ben Tinblin with 14.

Red Bank 95, Silverdale Academy 67: The Lions (9-3) seized control in the second quarter with a 31-16 edge, led by 13 points from Reco Trimble and eight from Nick Smith. Trimble led Red Bank with 19, followed by Cesar Salazar with 16, Smith with 13 and Chris Clay with 12. Brett Wright led Silverdale with 32 points.


Other games

Baylor 54, North Cobb Christian 37: Zane Restelli and Al Peciulis led the Red Raiders to the win in the Carpet Capital Classic, each scoring 16 points.

Northwest Whitfield 71, South Pittsburg 51: Payton Baker poured in a game-high 32 points and had 11 in the fourth quarter when the Bruins (9-2) pulled away to secure the win at the Border Battle at South Pittsburg. Racash Kelly led the Pirates with 13 points, with Naz Starkey adding 10.


Other boys games

Monday games

Northwest Whitfield 81, Grundy County 32: The Bruins (8-2) won at the Border Battle Tournament at South Pittsburg as Will Anderson scored 19 of his 24 points in the first half, Chandler Jackson added 11 points and Hudson Gray 10.

Coahulla Creek 67, Sequatchie County 52: The Colts (5-3) won the interstate matchup in Varnell as Will Locke scored 18 points — half of them coming in the third quarter — to go with six rebounds and Mario Edwards added 11 points.

Contact Lindsey Young at; follow him on Twitter @youngsports22