It's often the losses that show a basketball coach just what he or she has to work with and, usually, what the team has to work on moving forward.
For Notre Dame High School boys coach Jonathan Adams, Tuesday night's 51-23 thumping at the hands of McCallie in the semifinal round of the Times Free Press Best of Preps Basketball Tournament at East Hamilton did both.
Fixing the offensive shortcomings revealed vs. the Blue Tornado quickly became a priority and, though not completely solved, enough improvement was seen during Wednesday's 48-28 win over Howard in the tournament's third-place game to make Adams smile.
"I was proud of the heart that our kids showed," Adams said. "McCallie did a great job of kicking our tail yesterday and showing us some things that we needed to work on. To come back out after that and have the performance we had against a really good Howard team showed me our guys have a lot of heart.
"We did a nice job in transition tonight. We had a tough time with that against McCallie but we did a good job of creating turnovers and finishing at the rim tonight."
Though Adams already knew he has two elite scorers in sharpshooter Cole McCormick and slashing wing Tim Vaughn, he entered Wednesday's game against the athletic Hustlin' Tigers wanting to get them better looks. The Irish did just that as McCormick, who opened the tournament with 10 3-pointers en route to 34 points vs. Signal Mountain, had eight points early and finished with a team-high 23, with Vaughn adding 17, including several strong transition finishes.
The two combined for just 11 points vs. McCallie.
"Those guys have to deal with a lot of attention so they have to learn to navigate around that," Adams said. "They're figuring out how to step up when teams are concentrating on taking them out of the game."
Howard (8-2), fresh off a last-second loss to Tyner in the semifinal round, never found any offensive rhythm and trailed by seven at the half. McCormick heated up in the third quarter, scoring nine points, as the Irish broke the game open with a 19-8 advantage.
Jacob Millsaps led Howard with six points.
Red Bank 79, Ooltewah 61: Reco Trimble poured in a game-high 31 points to lead four Lions in double figures. Nick Smith, Kedrick Lloyd and Cesar Salazar each added 10 points for Red Bank (10-3). Deleon Petty owned game-high honors with 32 to lead the Owls, followed by nine from Trey Lester.
Silverdale Academy 68, Signal Mountain 40: Brett Wright continued his hot shooting with 24 points to lead the Seahawks, who led from start to finish. Sam Bembrey added nine points, all in the third quarter, for Silverdale while Andrew Matukewicz and Christopher Kennedy led Signal Mountain with 12 points each.
BOP All-Tournament team: David Craig (MVP), Kolin Claridy, Wilson Rankin, Milos Stijepovic (McCallie); Nehemiah Bloodsaw, Josh Jackson, Rodney Henderson (Tyner); Cole McCormick (Notre Dame); Norman Freeman (Howard); Reco Trimble (Red Bank).
Dade County 79, Trion 20: David Cole scored 11 of his game-high 26 points in the first quarter and Max Howard and Connor Wilbanks added 12 and 11 points, respectively, to lead the Wolverines at the Gordon Lee tournament, with Grayson Petty leading Trion with eight.
Baylor 67, Rome 58: At the Carpet Capital Classic at Christian Heritage, Nyziah Whaley scored 22 points, half of them coming in the final quarter, to defeat the Wolves. Al Pecrulis added 13 points, Zane Ristelli 11 and Eli Sparkman 10 for the Red Raiders.
Hixson 67, Gordon Lee 56: The Wildcats defeated the tournament hosts as Kaden Herman scored a game-high 31 points.
Ridgeland 91, Trion 58: Also at the Gordon Lee tournament, Matthew Ramsey had 25 points, Zack Harrison 23 and Judd Anderson 22 to lead the Panthers.
Coahulla Creek 61, South Pittsburg 52: The Colts (6-3) defeated the tournament hosts as Will Locke led the way with 12 points, followed by Aiden Patterson with 10.