GREAT FALLS Most Class A basketball teams in the state are fortunate to have a sixth or seventh man to go to off the bench, let alone have a deep bench.
Great Falls plays 10 players early and often.
Coach John Smith used that bench to a huge advantage Friday night as his 2nd-ranked Red Devils beat archrival Lewisville 70-48 in front of a packed gym.
Great Falls, second only to Calhoun County in the state rankings, subbed in five at a time about every four minutes against Lewisville. By the end of the third quarter the Lions legs were worn out.
Great Falls closed out the game on a 31-13 run en route to the Region 3-A win.
"Obviously, the second team coming in multiple times gave us a lift," Smith said.
His Red Devils improved to 15-1 overall and 6-0 in the region. Smith has taken teams to the state finals with a much shorter bench than this one. No school Great Falls' size has yet to match their depth. It may be late in the playoffs before the Red Devils encounter a team that can.
Great Falls got 40 points from the bench in this one. Ketron Peoples, one of the reserves, led three Red Devils in double figures with 11 points. Leroy Roseboro scored eight of his 11 points in the second half. Jacoby Canty added 10 points.
"We forced a few turnovers, but we didn't make a living out of it tonight. (Lewisville point guard Cortell) Busby did an excellent job with the dribble penetration and getting to the line," Smith said.
"They knew they would have to play a flawless game to beat us. If it weren't for Lewisville's offensive rebounding, it would have gotten out of hand much earlier."
Lewisville (3-8, 2-3) is a young, talented team. Great Falls led 36-25 at the half, but the Lions rallied. They stayed with Great Falls until halfway through the third quarter. It was a six-point deficit, 39-33, after a Jonathan Bryan 3-pointer with 3:59 left in the third.
"That's when (Great Falls') five in, five out caught up to us," Lewisville coach Tony Busby said. "Our boys got winded. Fatigue really set in."
Great Falls peeled off a 13-2 run to end the quarter in which all the points came from the bench. Josh Lynn chipped in four of his eight points on the night during the run.
"It is a luxury to have a physical specimen like Lynn coming off the bench," Smith said of his 6-5, 245-pound post player.
"There aren't many Class A schools who can put in five off the bench. It worked out nicely," Smith added in his classic style.
Lynn, who recently committed to play football at Furman, capped the night with a thundering dunk that delighted the home crowd. He added eight rebounds and a handful of blocked shots in the cause.
"Coach Smith pushes us hard in practice, then it comes easy in the games," Lynn said.
Roseboro ignited a 10-0 fourth-quarter run with a jumpshot and a layup.
"We lost five starters from last year's team, but we are getting better," Busby said. "We've played everyone in the region now. It is going to interesting the second time around. We'll get Great Falls at home the last game of the year."