GREENVILLE — Lewisville guard Qua Walls, Lewisvilles leading scorer, netted only seven points against Christ Church in the Class A Upper State championship game Saturday at the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville.
But what Lions coach Larry Davis needed from Walls was not offense; but instead, defensive presence against Christ Church sharpshooter Jeb Helmers.
Helmers had 19 points through the first three quarters, including a three-pointer to beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter. That gave the Cavaliers their first lead, 34-33, and the momentum heading down the stretch.
However, Walls and his teammates clamped down defensively. Helmers did not net another point and the Cavaliers totaled only four more the remainder of the contest.
That allowed the Lions to seize control with clutch hoops and free throws down the stretch for a 43-38 victory for the teams first trip to the state title game since 1985.
Walls displayed perhaps his most valuable defensive presence on the final Christ Church possession. Kale Worthy had just made two free throws to put the Lions ahead, 41-38, with 49.2 seconds remaining.
Walls stuck to Helmers like glue and forced an errant jumper. After Lions center Cody Montgomery grabbed the rebound, Walls eventually got possession and was fouled. He missed the front end of the one-and-one with 24.3 seconds remaining.
A mad scramble for the loose ball ended up in a jump ball with the possession arrow pointing in favor of Christ Church. Needing a three-pointer to tie and with no timeouts remaining, the Cavaliers were no doubt looking for Helmers to send the contest into overtime.
Christ Church coach R.J. Beach took consecutive timeouts with 16.46 seconds remaining to draw up a play. However, Davis spent the timeout to remind Walls of his defensive assignment.
He just told me to not let No. 20 (Helmers) touch the ball, Walls said. I just had to play deny defense. No. 20 is a great shooter and he is taller than me. If he got the ball and got a good look, we knew we could be looking at overtime.
Walls and his teammates were more than up to the task. The Cavaliers were unable to find Helmers, forcing junior guard Brawley Crawford into taking the final shot from beyond the arc.
His attempt barely glanced the front of the rim, allowing Worthy to grab the rebound with 6.2 seconds remaining. Worthy, who had already made four clutch free throws in the fourth quarter, swished two more for the game-clinching points, triggering a massive Lewisville celebration.
I know any of my teammates could have made those, but when I went to the line, I had no doubt, Worthy said of the clutch foul shooting in the fourth quarter. When I was fouled, I knew that I would make it. All I needed to do was to concentrate.
Davis reflected on his teams defensive effort to bounce back from the three-point deficit early in the fourth.
Our guys understand that we rely on defense, he said. We constantly get on them about playing defense. That has been the case all season. So we just kept fighting throughout the contest.
Basketball is a 32-minute game and is a game of runs. We knew that it should not be any way for us to let this get out of our hands. We just had to play hard down the stretch and go all out and take it.
Lewisville, 16-11, will take on Beaufort Whale Branch on Saturday at the Colonial Arena in Columbia for the state championship. Whale Branch defeated Carvers Bay for the Lower State title.
Christ Church finishes the season with a 19-9 record.
CHRIST CHURCH 38
Lewisville: Mardarius Bailey 11, Jarris Elder 4, Jarome Cousar 2, Kale Worthy 14, Qua Walls 7, Dre Bailey 2, Cody Montgomery 4.
Christ Church: Will Carter 6, Brawley Crawford 6, Quan White 9, Jeb Helmers 19.
3-pointers Lewisville 2 (Worthy, Walls); Christ Church 3 (Helmers 3). Fouled out White (CC). Total fouls Lewisville 11, Christ Church 14.
Records: Lewisville 16-11, Christ Church 19-9.