GREAT FALLS -- The Great Falls Red Devils did their part to keep pace in a neck-and-neck race for the Region 3-A championship with a 56-35 home victory over Chesterfield on Monday night.
Great Falls (19-3, 8-1 Region 3-A), used solid defense to take the Rams out of a consistent offensive rhythm. An active full-court press forced numerous Chesterfield turnovers and got the Red Devils off to a sizzling start with a 21-6 first-quarter lead.
From that point, Great Falls remained in control as the Rams could get no closer than 13 early in the fourth quarter.
Great Falls coach John Smith said the win wasn't pretty, particularly in the midst of very physical play.
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"It was a physical game, so we can describe this as being an ugly win; both teams were playing hard defensively and were getting after it. We are just happy to have gotten a comfortable lead where we could dictate the pace of the game.
"We are just happy to have gotten out of this game with a win."
The Red Devils began the contest with three consecutive 3-pointers, while limiting the Rams to only three field goals during the first-quarter explosion.
Great Falls maintained control at the half, 33-17, and continued to use solid defense to frustrate the Rams down the stretch.
With the victory, Great Falls keeps pace with North Central in the Region 3-A race. Both teams entered Monday night tied for the region lead. If both teams win their final two regular-season games, then a special one-game playoff will be held on Friday to determine the league champion.
"North Central has Indian Land tonight and McBee on Thursday; both of those teams have only one win in the region. We have to play at Lewisville on Thursday, and that is no piece of cake," Smith said. "We got this one tonight and have to be ready to play on Thursday."
Chesterfield 6 11 11 7 -- 35
Great Falls 21 12 12 11 -- 56
• GREAT FALLS 39, CHESTERFIELD 29 -- In Great Falls, the Lady Devils completed a worst-to-first journey through Region 3-A with a home victory over Chesterfield.
The win wraps up the region championship for the Lady Devils, who finished in the league's cellar last season with only one victory.
"Our girls just hung in there and just believed in each other," Great Falls coach Jeff Holmes said. "At the start of the season, I told them that if they worked hard, we could win the region."
Great Falls used the solid floor game of senior guard Shardae Lynn, who poured in 16 points and dished off four crucial assists in the fourth quarter to ignite the Lady Devil surge down the stretch.
The Lady Devils trailed 25-21 near the end of the third quarter, but trimmed the deficit to one after three free-throws from Lynn.
Lynn then drove the length of the court and dished underneath to Nedra Lynn for the layup, which put Great Falls ahead to stay, 26-25. From that point, the Lady Devils used solid defensive play to limit North Central to only one field goal and two free throws the rest of the way.
Lynn reflected on the goal of capturing the region championship.
"We only lost one person from last season; we just pulled together and worked hard as a team. Coach said that ability-wise, we could win the region if we work hard, and that's what we did."
Chesterfield 8 13 4 4 -- 29
Great Falls 9 8 7 13 -- 39