McCallie vs. Tyner
McCallie starters: C.J. Fritz (Sr.), Javaughn Craig (Soph.), Adrien Thomas (Soph.), Jordan Atkins (Jr.), Winston Whitener (Sr.)
Tyner starters: Sadik Spence (Sr.), Daaron Maston (Jr.), Kevin Cameron (Fr.), Rodney Watson (Sr.), Alex Watkins (Sr.)
It didn't take very long for Jordan Atkins' sophomore basketball season to be cut short. Matter of fact, he never got the chance to have a varsity basketball season, but he's been making up for it this year.
A freak injury in the weight room took off part of his middle finger, and caused him to miss the 2012-13 season. He primarily played junior varsity last season for McCallie before fully joining the varsity team this year, and has become the team's most consistent threat as they enter the Times Free Press Best of Preps tournament, starting Thursday at Chattanooga State.
The Blue Tornado (5-3) will face Tyner in one of the marquee games of the first evening, at 5:30.
He has immediately starting contributing to McCallie -- the defending Best of Preps champion -- with his ability to defend, rebound and score.
"He's our leading rebounder and averages close to double figure scoring," McCallie coach Dan Wadley said. "He's worked hard to get back, and he's been able to to help us out with his ability to shoot outside and score on the inside as well."
At the time of the injury, the Blue Tornado junior was reracking weights after an exercise when he ended up smashing part of his middle finger. He ended up losing the last digit of his right middle finger -- his dominant hand -- and the finger is three-quarters of an inch shorter than before the accident. The only adjustments on the court haven't been related to the his game but to just an occasion lost of feeling in the tip of the finger due to nerve damage.
It's made him appreciate this season that much more, as he's been a big reason McCallie is off to a 5-3 start heading into the Tyner game -- which will end a 12-day layoff between games. McCallie last played on Dec. 14, dropping a 59-53 decision to Brainerd in overtime.
"I've really enjoyed being back out there, especially after such a tragic accident," Atkins said. "Our record would indicate that we've been an average team this year, but I think we've played pretty well. We have a young team with young players, and I think we'll be playing better by the end of the year."
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.