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In a battle of district heavyweights, Round 1 was a technical knock out; Round 2 is tonight

McCallum hadn’t beaten LBJ in its gym since 2008, but with a blowout win over the Jags, the Knights ended a rivalry drought and sent a clear message to their district foes that they have championship intentions
KNIGHTS’ TRIUMPH: Seniors Henry Mayes and Ben Zacharias celebrate after the Knights beat LBJ, 56-28, to start off district play with a big rivalry win. Mayes had a big game as he scored 13 points during the game. “The LBJ games are always really intense,” Mayes said. “There are a lot of emotions from both the coaches and the players,” Mayes said. The Knights haven’t beaten LBJ at their home since February 2008, a span of almost 16 years. “Everyone wants to beat LBJ, so we felt a lot more confident about our future district play after beating them,” Mayes said.

For the first time since 2008, the boys varsity basketball team beat the LBJ Jaguars at LBJ on Dec. 5.

Since the rematch is tonight—this time at DCG (8 p.m. tipoff)—the same location where the Knights ended an 11-year losing streak in the rivalry series with a 63-55 win on Dec. 6, 2022, we are devoting this week’s Tuesday Top 10 photo essay to a look back at the teams’ first meeting.

In the rematch last year, the Jags got revenge on Jan. 17, 2023, with a 63-50 home win that extended their streak of home wins in the rivalry series and was a key piece toward claiming their expected championship.

This year, McCallum has set its sights on wresting that district title away from the Jags. That became abundantly clear in the team’s first meeting, which wasn’t just a victory, it was an emphatic statement to all foes of the team’s intentions.

The decisiveness of the 56-28 final score made the long-awaited road victory at LBJ all the more meaningful and satisfying.

The decisiveness of the 56-28 final score made the long-awaited road victory at LBJ all the more meaningful and satisfying.

While senior Henry Mayes knew the game would be challenging, doubling up the Jags wasn’t expected.

“We started off with nerves,” Mayes said. “We put up some strange shots to start the game, but once we got into the flow and played what we practiced it all worked out.”

The teams were tied at 10 at the end of the first quarter, but in the second and third quarters, the Knights blew the game open, outscoring their hosts, 33-12 over that span to take a 21-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Blowing out LBJ is a marked departure from the series history between the two teams. According to Mayes, past matchups between the Jags and Knights have been tense. Last year, the Knights ended an 11-year drought with a win over the Jags at home. Before that game, the most recent win over LBJ came on Feb. 1, 2011 when the Knights beat the Jags at home, 84-64.

LBJ (7-17, 4-3) at MAC (17-8, 7-0)

Don Caldwell Gymnasium

Tonight

8 p.m. varsity

6:30 p.m. JV

5:15 p.m. freshman

🆓 All MAC students get in free with their ID.

🎟️ Purchase tickets here.

📺 Watch the game here.

Photo by Emily Spigner.

“LBJ has always been a big rival for us,” Mayes said. “When we can’t root against Anderson we root against LBJ.”

Mayes says that team consistency was a major contributor to the game’s outcome.

“We’ve been working hard all off-season,” Mayes said. “And we certainly came in with energy and lots of pressure on defense and that got us the win.”

The game, while a victory for the whole team, was also a personal success for Mayes who scored 13 points to lead the team.

Mayes said his success on the court comes from building chemistry off of it.

“Making a better connection with the coach and with my teammates, building that trust, helps with opportunities to score more,” Mayes said.

After the game, senior point guard Finn Corrigan took to the Internet to find out the last time the Knights had won a boys varsity basketball game at LBJ. MaxPreps did not have the answer, so we took a look at the MacJ archives to see if we could find the answer.

It turns out that the last recorded McCallum victory at LBJ occurred on Jan. 22, 2008. On that night, according to the 2008 Knight yearbook, the road Knights prevailed over the Jags, 74-71 to complete a season sweep of the eventual district champs. Under the tutelage of the Coach Don Caldwell, who whom the gym is named,  the Knights won the first matchup between the two schools 70-65 on Dec. 14, 2017. MaxPreps has the score of that game record as a 70-70 tie, which seems unlikely, and the website also has no score record reported for the rematch game on Jan. 22.

The Knights hope that the spirit of 2007-2008 will be with the Knights to help them complete the first series sweep for the Knights over the Jags in 16 years. But this time, they hope the sweep leads them to a district championship.

WARMUP BEFORE WAR: Junior Tommy Ammerson warms up before the game practicing 3-pointers. The Knights do their warm-up before facing their district rival LBJ. The Knights were 1-1 against the Jaguars last season losing the game at LBJ. “Going into the game we knew we had to be focused because it was easily a game we could lose if it didn’t go well,” junior guard George Brode said. This game was the district opener for both teams so there was heightened pressure to start off well in a rivalry game that would also give one team a leg up in the race to a district title. Photo by David Herring.

DISTRICT OPENS: The Knights start their first district game against LBJ as junior forward Luke Dunham competes for the jump ball against a really tall opponent. “Before the tip, I was just thinking how undersized I was compared to my man,” Dunham said. Throughout the game, Dunham matched up against LBJ’s tallest player who had a few inches on all the McCallum players. Dunham was ready as he had practiced how to guard taller players. Before the game, Dunham knew the team could win. “I felt pretty confident about our chances with all the film and game prep we did before” the game, Dunham said. Photo by David Herring.

FIRST QUARTER FIGHT: Senior guard Henry Mayes looks for an opportunity to score. LBJ kept the game close with the Knights throughout the first quarter. “Our goals for the first half were to shut down the fast break as LBJ likes to run because they can’t shoot at all,” Mayes said. The Knights’ defense did a good job of keeping the Jags from fast-break opportunities as well as scoring themselves to keep the game even. “We wanted to keep our turnovers to under six and hold them to single-digit quarters,” Mayes said. The first quarter was the only quarter where the Jaguars scored double digits with the Knights matching their score to make it 10-all heading into the second quarter. Photo by David Herring.

THE KNIGHTS’ SHIELD. Senior point guard Finn Corrigan defends against an LBJ player. Throughout the game, the Knights kept up a good defense. Corrigan believed the key to that defensive success was communication and pressure. ”The team communicated really well on defense, our full-court press worked great, and we forced a bunch of turnovers,” Corrigan said. The defense was able to keep the Jaguars low-scoring. The Jags never scored more than 10 points in a quarter. When the Knights forced a turnover, it also really helped their offensive by creating easy shot opportunities that enabled the team to extends its lead. Photo by David Herring.

HALFTIME HUDDLE: Coach Fuentes talks to the team during halftime. The Knights led at this point in the game, 28-18, thanks to an explosive second quarter in which the Knights scored 18 points and kept LBJ to eight. Junior guard George Brode stressed the importance of Fuentes’ talk during the half. “At the half, he talked about promising things in the first half and the importance of our defense,” Brode said. “We knew that if we kept up our strong defense it would win us the game.”  The Knights also told themselves that the game was not over despite their double-digit lead and that they had to maintain their effort in the second half. Photo by David Herring.

DAUNTING DEFENSE: Junior guard George McCoy shoots the ball despite pressure from two LBJ defenders. The Knights struggled at times on offense due to the strong pressure from the Jaguars. “LBJ had a strong defense with probably the most athletically challenging [defenders] in our district,” McCoy said. The height of the LBJ players made it hard for the Knights to get rebounds, but that didn’t stop them from getting second-shot opportunities. “We were able to find holes in the defense and get to the basket and also shoot,” McCoy said. The Knights’ ability to counter the Jaguars’ defense was a key to winning the game. Photo by David Herring.

D-UP. The McCallum bench chants as the Knights switch to defense. The players on the McCallum bench brought the energy to the gym as they chanted “D up” every time LBJ had the ball. Senior point guard Finn Corrigan appreciates the cheers from his fellow Knights. “I think cheering helps the players on the court, especially if you’re not at your home gym,” Corrigan said. Even with little fan support in the stands, the Knights enjoyed loud cheering from their own bench. Photo by David Herring.

MCCOY MOMENTUM: Junior guard George McCoy lays up the ball after breaking past the LBJ defense. The Knights kept scoring points after the half, extending the lead. The Knights were able to capitalize on every opportunity to score. “To keep momentum, we kept the mindset that LBJ was still a threat to us no matter how close the game was,” McCoy said. Making the most of his scoring opportunities, McCoy scored 13 points for the Knights. Photo by David Herring.

FOURTH QUARTER FRENZY: Junior Luke Dunham takes a free throw as the Knights lead by 28. The Knights continued to play at a high level in the fourth quarter as they added more points to the scoreboard. “We continued to score because we wanted to send a shot to the rest of the district that we run it,” Dunham said. The Knights continued to put the score up as they faced one of the best teams in the district who has historically beat them. The Knights don’t care about the past though as they showed LBJ that they are the better team on this night. Photo by David Herring.

KNIGHTS’ TRIUMPH: Seniors Henry Mayes and Ben Zacharias celebrate after the Knights beat LBJ, 56-28, to start off district play with a big rivalry win. Mayes had a big game as he scored 13 points during the game. “The LBJ games are always really intense,” Mayes said.  “There are a lot of emotions from both the coaches and the players,” Mayes said. The Knights haven’t beaten LBJ at their home since February 2008, a span of almost 16 years. “Everyone wants to beat LBJ, so we felt a lot more confident about our future district play after beating them,” Mayes said. Photo by David Herring.

 

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  • F

    Fletcher VandegriftJan 18, 2024 at 1:55 pm

    I like how the pictures show how important this game was to us and how a big win can turn a rough start to a season around.

    Reply
  • S

    Sienna MartensJan 18, 2024 at 12:42 pm

    I really like the emphasis on how big of a deal this is and how the last time this happened was included. Very well written and interesting

    Reply