GREAT FALLS -- Torrey Craig swished two 3-pointers during a 12-point third-quarter outburst and ignited Great Falls on a decisive run as the Red Devils advanced to the third round of the Class A playoffs with a 58-31 victory over Greenville Tech.
The Red Devils had taken a 5-point lead into halftime, but still did not feel in control of the contest.
Greenville Tech's passing half-court offense slowed the pace and kept the Red Devils from their usual up-tempo style.
"It was really tough," Craig, a 6-4 forward said. "We play more at a faster pace. Coach (John) Smith just told us to be patient and then the game would eventually come to us."
Craig and his teammates were wise to follow the advice of Smith, a high school coaching legend with over 800 career wins.
Craig, who finished with a game-high 24 points, came out in the third quarter with a baseline jumper, layup off a steal, and long-range 3-pointer for a 29-15 Red Devil advantage with 4:23 remaining. Following another jumper from Great Falls guard Leroy Roseboro, Greenville Tech temporarily stopped the bleeding when guard Paul Lawler sank a jumper.
However, Craig continued to dominate. He scored an interior hoop, and on the next possession, scored after grabbing an offensive rebound while being fouled in the process. He sank the free throw for a commanding 36-17 Red Devil lead with 1:55 remaining in the third.
"We just hustled and began making big plays in order to get the game at our pace," Craig said about the third-quarter domination. "We just came out more physical and aggressive."
Great Falls, 24-1 overall, also used a nagging defensive press to wear down Greenville Tech, which is led by dazzling guard Jonathan Wood.
Smith credited solid defensive play for being able to shut down the Greenville Tech offensive weapons.
Wood accounted for all of his team's 10 points in the second quarter when Greenville Tech trailed the Red Devils, 20-15, at the half.
"But in the second half, we laid off of him and began to play him for the drive and not come up on him," Smith said. "The last two games, we have been able to step it up defensively."
Wood was held to four in the second half and Greenville Tech, 14-12 overall, only accounted for 16 points in the final two quarters.
With the victory, Great Falls moves to third-round action and will square off against Hunter-Kinard-Tyler on Tuesday.
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