published Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Rams work inside, now 10-0

Clearly, shot selection had a great deal to do with Thursday's 44-32 outcome when Tyner defeated Baylor in a boys' semifinal in the Times Free Press Best of Preps basketball tournament at Arts & Sciences.

The Rams' layups were going in. The Red Raiders' long-range shots were not. That was the story, particularly in the second half.

As a result, Tyner will take on McCallie, also 10-0, in tonight's championship game at about 8:30.

McCallie coach Dan Wadley had expressed his team's excitement at getting the chance to play for the tournament championship. Tyner coach Gerald Harris downplayed the significance of it.

"We're glad to have a chance to play another really, really good athletic team," Harris said. "That's going to help us in the long run."

Nine of Tyner's 10 baskets -- Sadik Spencer's 3-pointer at the 4:40 mark of the third quarter was the other -- were from about eight feet in. Most came from right below the basket.

Forwards Travis Murphy and Tre Suttles shared scoring honors for the Rams with 14 each. Not only did they benefit from set-up passes from their guard teammates, but their interior passing led to some easy field goals, too.

"I thought we did a really good job watching cutters underneath," Harris said. "We're strong inside. We have been all year."

The Red Raiders fell behind 8-0 and never led, but they never trailed by double digits through the first three quarters. Wyatt McRae, whom Baylor coach Austin Clark praised for his rebounding effort, had a chance for a three-point play with 44.2 seconds to go in the third quarter, but his missed free throw left the score 35-31 heading to the fourth.

Baylor (2-3) never made another basket. Much of that had to do with its fourth-quarter shots either coming from 20-plus feet or being of the off-balance variety.

"We looked like that was our fifth game of the year," Clark said. "We were taking shots we shouldn't have been taking. Usually bad shots end up in transition baskets against teams of Tyner's caliber. We wanted to make them play defense a little bit longer."

Four Red Raiders were all who scored, led by Leo Born with 15 points. Reggie Upshaw added 10.

about Kelley Smiddie...

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 ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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