McCallie simply had no answer. Outsized in the post, the Blue Tornado basketball team also struggled to defend Memphis University School's long-range gunner Bailey Buford.
That combination led the Owls to a dominating 56-33 win in Saturday's Division II-AA state quarterfinal at McCallie.
Buford made seven 3-pointers, helping MUS answer each McCallie run. The last of those treys gave the Owls a double-digit lead early in the fourth quarter that was extended as they closed the game on a 12-2 run.
"We knew he was a good shooter coming in," McCallie coach Dan Wadley said. "But every time they needed an answer or a big shot they found him, and give him credit, it's tough to shoot in this building but he did a nice job.
"Their size inside gave us problems. When we were able to use our speed to get out and run, we made plays and kept it close, but inexperience shows up in big games."
The Owls advance to the state semifinals Friday at Lipscomb University, where they will play the winner of Saturday's game between Montgomery Bell Academy and Evangelical Christian School.
After trailing throughout the first half the Blue Tornado, who had just one starter back from last season and starts two sophomores and two juniors, never got closer than five in the second half.
"This team really accomplished a lot, and I'm proud of what they did this season," said Wadley, whose team won the program's first Division II East/Middle region title. "With our inexperience, we were living on borrowed time, but big games like this will only help this team going into next season."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...