Lions settle the score with Red Devils

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By Travis Jenkins

When his team sat at 2-2 in the region, Lewisville Coach Mike McCray had a team meeting to talk with players about what they wanted out of the rest of their season.

“I told them it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” he said.

That lesson obviously carried over to Friday. Lewisville trailed rival Great Falls through most of the first three quarters and gave up a late lead, but made some clutch free throws down the stretch to pull out a 55-50 victory.

That the game came down to free throw shooting and still ended in Lewisville’s favor is amazing, since the team has struggled at the stripe this season and actually missed a slew free throws against the Red Devils. McCray said he would have laughed if he’d been told with two minutes to go that his team was going to pull away thanks efficiency at the line.

“We missed  16 free throws,” he said. “The game could have been much different if we’d connected on our free throws, but we made them when we had to.”

After watching a seven-point lead evaporate in the fourth quarter and seeing Great Falls tie the game at 47 all, Devan Busby built the lead back up to two with a driving layup. Demetric Hardin knocked down a shot to put Lewisville up 51-48 a possession later, but Great Falls got back within a point with just under a minute left thanks to two Kel Brown free throws. The Red Devils executed what seemed like a sound strategy, that being to foul. That both saved time and seemed to give Lewisville a lower-percentage shot than they might get running their offense. Hardin, who was 1-for-5 at the line up to that point was fouled.

“He was struggling at the line,” McCray said of his sophomore point guard. “The crowd got in his head a little, so I sat him down and talked to him.”

With the game on the line, Hardin calmly drained a pair of free throws. After an empty Great Falls possession, the Devils were forced to foul Maurice Grant, who had missed five free throws in the fourth quarter alone. He didn’t miss any more, knocking down both of his attempts for the final 55-50 score.

Early on, Great Falls was able to build a lead thanks to its inside-out game. Tommy Belk is normally a post presence, but he connected on a three-pointer, as did Donnell Adams. Kelton Talford did his damage down low, banking one home in the paint and scoring off an offensive rebound. At the other end, Jadakiss Talford largely kept his team from getting run out of the gym early. He was a handful underneath, keeping possessions alive with his offensive rebounding and scoring six points to keep his team close at 12-8 through one.

In the second the offensive flow slowed to a trickle, with both teams playing lockdown defense and the referee whistles getting both teams in the double bonus fairly early. In fact, neither team made a two-point bucket in the frame. Adams nailed a couple of three-pointers for Great Falls and the team went nine-of-10 at the line. Quentin Sanders had a three for Lewisville, but the rest of their points came at the line as the Red Devils took a 25-20 lead into the break.

In the third, Lewisville moved in front for the first time with a combination of stifling defense (that limited Great Falls to seven points) and balanced scoring. Five different Lions got on the board in the third and Jadakiss Talford caught fire again, pouring in eight points (including one three-pointer) as Lewisville went up 37-32 going to the fourth. He then drained another long three early in the fourth to give his team its biggest lead.

“After he hit that three, he was just feeling it,” McCray said.

Great Falls did claw its way back to a tie with a 15-of-17 showing at the line in the fourth, but suffered defensively when Belk fouled out with 4:40 to go. Lewisville’s foul shots when it mattered most made the biggest difference, though.

The win allowed Lewisville to avenge its loss to Great Falls two weeks prior.

“We had to get them back,” Jadakiss Talford said.

Jadakiss Talford had 18 for Lewisville while Grant added 14. Kelton Talford scored 15 and Adams 14 for Great Falls. The win moved both teams to 6-2 in the region, one game behind McBee who is 7-1. Both teams have a shot to overtake the Panthers, though. Great Falls played them Tuesday night and Lewisville goes to McBee on Thursday. Should Great Falls and Lewisville end up tied, the Devils would hold a narrow tie-breaker as they won the first match-up of the two by eight points, while Lewisville won Friday by five.


Lady Devils sweep Lewisville


The girls contest also came down to the wire, with Great Falls squeezing out a 50-48 victory.

The Lady Red Devils led most of the way early in a tight game. Anaya Canty handled the bulk of the scoring for Great Falls, scoring six points early. Amber Bass had five in the first for Lewisville as the Lady Devils led 10-7 after one.

As was the case in the boys game, the whistles were plentiful and foul shots were frequent. The two teams shot a combined 22 free throws in the second when both teams cored 13 points. Great Falls held onto a 23-20 lead at the break.

The Lady Lions took their first lead of the contest early in the third thanks to a 4-0 spurt (on buckets by Bass and Hannah McCallister), but the two teams went back and forth for the rest of the stanza. Great Falls’ Zy Adams ended Lewisville’s brief run with a three-pointer that momentarily gave her team the lead back at 26-24. McCallister drove the baseline for a layup that tied the score at 26, then Bass scored again in the paint for Lewisville to stake her team to a 28-26 advantage. Great Falls tied it again on the ensuing possession with a short turnaround jumper by Hayra Trotter. Allie Keels scored a second-chance bucket for Lewisville the next time down the floor and by the end of the quarter, Lewisville was hanging onto a 33-32 lead.

Adams came up huge for her team again in the fourth, canning another three-pointer and scoring six total points. Jazmine Floyd also connected from the outside and the Lady Devils defense started to force some turnovers as Great Falls looked to be pulling away up 49-42 in the final minutes.

Lewisville had one last charge left, though. Amber Bass was able to get the ball down low time and again and when she didn’t finish at the rim, she drew fouls and got to the line. She had 10 points in the quarter as Lewisville went on a 7-1 run to pull within 50-49 with only second remaining on the clock. Jada Bradley knocked a couple of balls loose for Lewisville and managed to give her team possession with four seconds left. Keels inbounded the ball at midcourt, but Great Falls managed to get a hand on it and Lewisville never got off its potential game-winner.

“We work on those situations every day in practice in case they come up in games,” said Great Falls Coach Randy Worthy.

Worthy said he was proud of the all-around effort his team gave, especially on defense. He said the plan was to double Bass whenever she got the ball to force it out of her hands. She still got her points (22) especially late, but Worthy said the strategy worked.

“Our girls worked very hard for this one. They prepared and practiced well,” he said.

Canty scored 15 and Adams 14 in the win for Great Falls. Both teams moved to 2-6 in the region and Great Falls swept the season series. Lewisville was at Lamar last night while Great Falls played host to McBee.