George Wilmore and his team got a rude welcome in Great Falls on Friday night.
The Red Devils scored 23 points in the first six minutes of the game, while holding Lewisville to 2 in that span, and never looked back en route to a 79-48 blowout.
“We were into the game offensively and defensively and I was very pleased with the effort,” said John Smith, legendary coach at Great Falls.
Wilmore, who played at Great Falls for Smith, was back Friday night as the first-year coach of Lewisville. The Lions are defending Class A state champs, but this season, mired in a 1-11 start, has been markedly different. Friday night provided evidence why Wilmore’s first year replacing departed coach Larry Davis has been a difficult one.
“We didn’t close out well enough,” Wilmore said. “We threw multiple defenses at them and they just came out on fire. Some nights you have nights like that.”
Great Falls had an equally frustrating 2012-13 campaign, the Red Devils’ first losing season in several decades. But Smith’s 2013-14 team looks like vintage Great Falls reserve. The Red Devils are ranked in the Class A state polls and feeling good as they head down the stretch of the Region 3-A schedule with three home games and a short trip to Lewisville remaining.
Nigel Simpson led the Red Devils with 27 and dictated the game’s quick pace from his point guard position. Where Great Falls was able to differentiate itself was on the offensive glass; Jamarcus Culp (17 points), Mardre Dean (12 points) and several others pounded the backboards on both ends of the gym.
“We got far more offensive rebounds and easier shots than they did,” said Smith.
There weren’t many offensive rebounds for the Red Devils to chase in a first quarter where they seemingly couldn’t miss. Simpson hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Red Devils blew the wheels off their foes from down the road.
“We were very motivated from the start,” said Simpson, a slender, 5-foot-4 junior. “We wanted to win because they beat us real badly last year. We wanted to get our revenge.”
Great Falls’ early avalanche buried the visitors. Culp took a steal at halfcourt and threw down a one-handed slam, before Dean turned a block into a run-out lay up and a 16-2 lead. Then Simpson buried a 3, Dean knocked down a baseline jumper and Culp corralled a long rebound and whipped a pass up-court to Simpson for a lay-in without the ball touching the floor. Obbie Sarduy, who led Lewisville with 14 points, hit a 3 to finally break the Great Falls run, but it was already 23-5.
The early spurt rendered the second half largely inconsequential. A tough night for Wilmore ended prematurely when he got tossed just over two minutes into the second half.
“Tempers flared a little bit, but I was fighting for my team,” he said afterward. “I want them to know that, hey, for 32 minutes I’m gonna coach my butt off for you guys and I’m gonna go to war for you guys.”
Wilmore’s return to Great Falls was a wholly different one from when he was sitting at the home end of the gym. Closest to the gym doors, fans walked in front of the Lewisville bench and spilled popcorn was scattered on the sideline.
“As soon as people walk in, they’re right there on the bench,” said Wilmore. “I thought when I was playing it was kind of like a home court advantage, especially if a tall guy walks by you, you can’t really see!”
Afterward, there was a hug for Wilmore from his mentor.
“I’ll call you,” he said to Smith, before sliding out the door.
Great Falls 79, Lewisville 48
LEWISVILLE Elder 12, M. McCullough 4, Montgomery 8, Sarduy 14, Mosley 2, Gaston 5, T. McCullough 5. GREAT FALLS Simpson 27, J. Culp 17, Dean 12, McCorey 3, Holmes 7, C. Culp 11.
FOULS Lewisville 12; Great Falls 9
FREE-THROW SHOOTING Lewisville 3-5; Great Falls 8-15
3-POINT SHOOTING Lewisville 7 (Sarduy 4, Elder 2, T. McCullough); Great Falls 7 (Simpson 4, Dean, McCrorey, Holmes)
RECORDS Lewisville 1-11, 0-3; Great Falls 13-4, 3-1.
Lewisville 47, Great Falls 39: Lewisville doubled its win-total for the season with a win over Great Falls.
Eighth-grader Rikoya Anderson led Rusty Pemberton’s Lions (2-8, 1-3 in Region 3-A) with 22 points.
Lewisville led the hosts 27-16 with close to 2 minutes left in the first half when Great Falls (2-11, 0-4) ripped off a 9-0 run to close the half, and the score to 27-26.
Lewisville restored a comfortable advantage early in the second half behind an 8-1 run that prompted a Great Falls timeout, from which the Red Devils never recovered.
Lewisville 47, Great Falls 39
LEWISVILLE Green 13, Fisher 8, Feaster 2, Cousar 2, Anderson 22. GREAT FALLS A. Edwards 7, C. Edwards 4, K. Rice 10, M. Lubojacky 6, Patterson 12.
FOULS Lewisville 14; Great Falls 14
FREE-THROW SHOOTING Lewisville 12-20; Great Falls 2-11
3-POINT SHOOTING Lewisville 3 (Anderson, Green 2); Great Falls 5 (Patterson 4, Rice)
RECORDS Lewisville 2-8, 1-3; Great Falls 2-11, 0-4.
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twiter: @BretJust1T