OOLTEWAH, Tenn. — East Hamilton wasn’t where it wanted to be after one quarter of Tuesday night’s contest against McCallie, but that didn’t stop the Hurricanes from capturing a 55-48 win over the Blue Tornado for the team’s fifth straight victory.
Blue Tornado senior Jamaal Calvin buried a contested 3-pointer to open the game, and teammate Jorden Williams knocked down his third trey of the night to conclude the first quarter.
McCallie owned a double-digit lead after one period, but there wasn’t an ounce of panic on the Hurricanes’ bench.
“We talked to them — didn’t have to yell,” East Hamilton coach Michael Stone said. “We just told them that they’re battle tested. (District 6-AA) is one of the toughest districts in east Tennessee. We’ve seen good teams. We’ve been down by 50 before. A 12-point deficit is nothing in their eyes.”
The ‘Canes (9-3) got right to work on closing the gap in the second.
A pair of layups by junior Tre Herndon narrowed it to six, and East Hamilton closed the quarter with a 9-0 run, which included a three-point play by senior Ladarius Watkins and the go-ahead basket by freshman Kenny Bunton with seven seconds left, to take a 29-28 lead into the break.
The Blue Tornado (7-6), which couldn’t sustain its red-hot shooting from the first quarter, kept things close in the third by scoring on the inside. McCallie shot just 4 of 23 from 3-point range and didn’t get a single shot to fall from beyond the arc in the final three periods.
“Our whole game is predicated on effort and execution,” McCallie coach Dan Wadley said. “It’s also predicated on hitting shots. We didn’t hit shots tonight, so we had to go back the other way and it was bad. The old idea that you win and lose by the 3, that’s what we’ve had to play.”
East Hamilton strung together a 12-0 run to open the fourth quarter, possessing a 50-38 lead with 4:56 remaining, and while the Blue Tornado made one final charge down the stretch, the closest it managed to get was within four.
Calvin, who scored 10 points in the first half, finished with a team-high 18 for McCallie, while Williams added 13 — nine of which came in the opening quarter. Center Nick Jacobs also finished in double figures with 10.
“I just don’t know what it is, we’ve just got to battle through it,” said Wadley, whose team defeated Westminster (Ga.) in double-overtime last Saturday. “Our post players are getting better, and we’ve just got to keep working at it and get better.”
Bunton led all scorers with 19 for East Hamilton, and the 6-5 freshman scored seven in the decisive fourth quarter. Herndon and senior Cody Knox each added 10, while seniors Ladarius Watkins and Dominic Powell chipped in six apiece.
“There were some big contributions from a lot of guys in a lot of ways tonight,” Stone said. “We don’t have one superstar. When you look at McCallie’s lineup, everybody knows you have to deal with Jamaal and Jorden every game. For us, in the past, we’ve been a one- or two-man show, and that’s what’s changed for us.”
The Hurricanes return to action Thursday at District 6-AA foe Red Bank, while the Blue Tornado will play a pair of Division II-AA East/Middle Region games in middle Tennessee over the weekend, taking Battle Ground Academy on Friday before playing at Pope John Paul II on Saturday.