The time-clock wound down to within a minute and the scorekeeper sounded the buzzer, signaling the teams to report to their respective bench to start the third quarter.
St. Joseph's had just completed warm-up drills, but the Great Falls Red Devils were just walking on the court from the locker room.
Coach John Smith used every possible second during the intermission to make the necessary adjustments, particularly with the Knights ending the second quarter scoring five of the final six points to pull to within seven, 23-16.
The Red Devils were able to follow Smith's instructions to perfection and pulled away with a 67-38 victory in the second-round of the Class A Upper State playoffs Friday.
"He was basically telling us to step it up and that we were making too many turnovers," Red Devil guard Ernest Talford said.
"He told us that the first four minutes of the second half was very important and that we had to D-up on No. 2 (St. Joseph's guard Kelly Assinessi). We had to stop him," Great Falls forward Xavier Holmes added.
The Red Devils, 22-3 overall, came out strong on defense in the third, particularly against Assinessi, the senior guard who scored 15 of his team's 16 points in the first half.
Smith said that turning up the defensive heat on Assinessi was the primary theme of the half-time speech.
"We decided to double-up on him and get the ball out of his hands," Smith said in the defensive adjustment to Assinessi.
"We did not care who was going to do it, we had to double-up on him in order to get the ball out of his hands. Once the ball is not in his hands, St. Joseph's has to change their level of play. They are not the same team with the ball not in his hands. It was just a very simple adjustment in that we had to try to wear him down in the second half."
The strategy paid off in the third as Assinessi cooled off with only two points. Meanwhile, the increased defensive intensity caused increased Great Falls momentum on offense.
Holmes was effective in the paint and the guard play of Shaquille Simpson and Talford found the range from the perimeter. Talford and Simpson scored back-to-back hoops for a 41-23 lead with 1:11 remaining in the third.
Holmes drew a foul and canned two foul shots and then, crashed the offensive board for a put-back and 43-23 advantage.
Following an Alex Wineberger jumper for St. Joseph's, Simpson brought the Great Falls fans to their feet, connecting with a long 3-point shot at the buzzer for what was clearly an insurmountable 48-25 lead going into the fourth.
Holmes led the Red Devils with 22, but senior forward Alstevis Squirewell followed with 17, including the team's first nine points of the game.
The Red Devils, 22-3, will now face long-time playoff nemesis Calhoun County in Tuesday's Upper State semifinals at Blythewood. Calhoun County, a perennial Class A powerhouse, defeated Christ Church, 64-60, on Friday.
The Saints, who won four of the last five state championships, won four straight postseason meetings against the Red Devils.
GREAT FALLS 67
ST. JOSEPH'S 38
ST. JOSEPH'S -- Kelly Assinesi 28, Alexander Powell 2, Michael Kopscik 1, Alex Winebarger 7,
GREAT FALLS -- Shaquille Lamar 4, Shaquille Simpson 10, Ernest Talford 10, D.D. Boulware 4, Xavier Holmes 22, Alstevis Squirewell 17.
3-pointers -- St. Joseph's 6 (Assinesi 6), Great Falls 7 (Squirewell 3, Talford 2, Simpson 2). Team fouls -- St. Joseph's 18, Great Falls 13. Fouled out -- None
Records: St. Joseph's 19-7; Great Falls 22-3.