CHESTER — No single player earned the game ball: It would have had to be sliced up like a pie and distributed to every player on the Lewisville roster after a 72-58 third-round Class A playoff victory over Fox Creek.
Multiple players came up huge on both ends of the court to spark the Lions to their first appearance in the Upper State championship game since the 2003-2004 season.
Point guard Mardarious Bailey directed a steady attack with 11 points; forward Qua Walls brought plenty of energy by soaring over the Fox Creek defense to throw down an alley-oop dunk, igniting a second-quarter rally.
Guard Kale Whorthy came through with consecutive three-point jumpers after Fox Creek had rallied to cut an 18-point lead down to 11 early in the third.
Center Cody Montgomery came up huge defensively with five blocked shots to go along with 10 points.
That is a small snapshot of how all of the pieces came together for the Lions, who had nine of their 11 players get into the scoring column in the blowout victory over Fox Creek of North Augusta on Tuesday at a neutral site at the Chester High School gymnasium.
“It starts with great ball movement and with our defense,” Lewisville coach Larry Davis said after getting wet with a Gatorade bath in the post-game celebration.
“We do not want to be in a position where we rely on only one or two players” to carry a bulk of the scoring load.
The Lions used that balance to open a lead as huge as 18, 37-19, with 2:48 remaining before the half after Walls soared high during a half-court set to take a lob pass from Bailey for the one-handed throw down, sending the large Lewisville faithful into a frenzy.
“We work on that play all the time in practice,” Walls said. “He (Bailey) threw it up there and I had to go get it.
“That was a big momentum changer for us, especially in getting the crowd excited.”
Fox Creek, 15-11, tempered the Lions’ momentum as Brandyn Quiller sank a three-pointer at the buzzer and trimmed the deficit to 15.
The Predators generated a run and cut the deficit to 11, 43-32, when Quiller swished the nets from beyond the arc with 5:17 remaining. Fox Creek fans began to make noise with signs of a potential rally.
But the Lions quickly answered the challenge. Whorthy launched two consecutive three-point jumpers from the corner, and Montgomery sank a turnaround jumper in the lane to push the lead back to 17, 51-34.
Brandon Gladney scored on the interior for the Predators, but the Lions ended the quarter strong, scoring the final six points for their biggest lead at that point, 57-36.
Lewisville carried that momentum into the fourth, scoring eight of the first 11 points to increase the margin to 27 midway through the fourth. That gave Davis the luxury of substituting freely with reserves and allowing the Predators to post 22 points down the stretch to close the final deficit to 14.
“We kept moving the ball and pushed it up the floor; we never wanted the ball to come to a standstill,” Bailey said. “We were also determined to keep working hard on defense; when that happens, we know that our offense will come.”
Predator coach Jared Carter tipped his hat to the Lions, but also credited his team for a solid season.
“We have six solid seniors who led by example. We got this far because of our defense, even though we had the kind of game like we had tonight,” he said.
Lewisville, 14-11, will take on the Christ Church-C.A. Johnson winner Saturday afternoon at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville for the Class-A Upper State title.
Lewisville 72, Fox Creek 58
Fox Creek – Brandyn Quiller 14, D.J. Curry 9, Marques Summer 5, Brandon Gladney 2, Darshon Broadwater 5, Martell Allen 2, Chris Harmon 19, Trey Heflin 2.
Lewisville – Mardarius Bailey 11, Jarvis Elder 4, Obie Sardui 5, Kale Whorthy 15, Qua Walls 11, Evan Sisk 4, Dre Bailey 9, Cody Montgomery 10, Garrett Mullis 3..
3-pointers – Fox Creek 5 (Quiller 3, DJ Curry 1, Harmon 1); Lewisville 5 (Whorthy 2, Walls 1, D. Bailey 1, M. Bailey 1 ).
Fouled out – None.
Total fouls – Fox Creek 17, Lewisville 12.
Records: Fox Creek 15-11, Lewisville 14-11.