GREAT FALLS -- Great Falls used solid defense to hold another opponent below the 50-point mark for a key 58-46 victory over Lewisville on Tuesday.
The Red Devils held Lewisville to only 11 first-half points and withstood a furious comeback in the third quarter before pulling away down the stretch.
Since yielding 80 points in a region-opening loss to North Central, Great Falls has held four straight opponents below 50 points. Red Devils coach John Smith considers it a good defensive barometer.
"Anytime that you can hold a team under 50 points, you will have a good chance to win," Smith said. "After getting the lead early, (Lewisville) stepped up their defensive pressure and cut it to five. But our second team provided us with plenty of energy; they got a couple of key steals, especially when they made their run, and that gave us a huge lift."
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Lions coach Brian Dove pointed to the early offensive futility as the key to his team's downfall.
"You don't score 11 points in the first half and expect to win," he said. "We gave a good defensive effort, but were unable to put the ball in the hole. If you do not score, then you will not win."
Great Falls (15-3, 4-1 Region 3-A) took a 23-11 lead into the half and increased it to 33-27 after Brandon Crawford scored on the interior with 4:55 remaining in the third. Lewisville (11-5, 3-2) stepped up its defensive pressure and reeled off 12 unanswered points as LaDarius Hinton got hot with seven points.
After seeing the lead dwindle to four, 33-29, Great Falls regained momentum within the closing seconds of the third quarter. Desmar Anderson nailed a 3-pointer, Torrey Craig sank a free throw and Anderson stole an inbounds pass for a quick layup.
Lewisville turned the ball over on four straight possessions to start the fourth, and that led to an 8-0 Great Falls run, pushing the lead back to 16 with 3:57 remaining.
• ROCK HILL 65, NATION FORD 54 -- At Fort Mill, although it's getting closer, Nation Ford once again failed to pick up its first region win, falling to Rock Hill.
Playing in their first year in the region and using mostly sophomores and juniors, the Falcons have two main scoring weapons in T.J. Everette and Sam Hirsch. Everette and Hirsch finished with 19 and 18 points, respectively.
The Bearcats, just two years removed from winning the state title, have an entire team of scoring threats.
Despite the odds, Nation Ford had a shot at knocking off the Bearcats (6-9, 4-5 Region 3-AAAA). The Falcons led the game 43-40 late in the third period, when Rock Hill turned up the heat defensively.
The Bearcats switched to a half-court trap, and the Falcons (2-16, 0-8) couldn't find an answer. Rock Hill used an 11-2 run to build a six-point lead with 5:25 remaining.
Nation Ford started fouling the Bearcats early, feeling it had a better shot at Rock Hill missing free throws rather than stopping the 'Cats' offense. So with 3:00 left in the game and trailing by seven, the game turned into a free throw shooting contest.
While it wasn't stellar, Rock Hill hit enough to keep Nation Ford at bay. With their thin bench, the Falcons didn't have enough firepower to get back into the game.
Rock Hill attempted 23 free throws in the fourth period, hitting 14. The Bearcats had a little luck on their side. In the last minute, a Bearcat hit the first of two shots only to miss the second three separate times. Each time, the Bearcats hustled and got the rebound.
With 30 seconds remaining, Nation Ford coach Andre Moore finally commanded his squad to let the clock run down.
Nation Ford gets another opportunity tonight as Clover comes to Fort Mill in a game that was re-scheduled due to weather concerns.