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Great Falls boys bouncing back from difficult season

Great Falls—Head coach John Smith had unprecedented success at Great Falls, winning numerous state championships while playing for many others before retiring a couple of years ago.

The Red Devils faced an unfamiliar situation last season, finishing 5-5 in the region and missing out on a playoff berth because of a tiebreaker.  That has been the driving force behind this year’s 10-2 start, with Great Falls winning its conference opener over Timmonsville.

“Our region is tough so we played a lot of 2A and 3A teams trying to get prepared for that.  Once you make the playoffs, anything can happen.  We missed the playoffs last year, and our goal from that day on was not to have our fate left in anyone else’s hand,” head coach Jimmy Duncan said.

The team may even ahead of schedule, as the majority of the lineup is made up of underclassmen.  The younger guys have all contributed and the team has been very balanced.

“We thought we’d be okay.  We lost our point guard that was all-state last year, but we’ve come together faster than I thought.  We manufactured a lot of experience by playing 23 or 24 games this summer.  Just about everyone played some sort of offseason basketball,” Duncan said.

The biggest factor thus far has been sophomore center Kelton Talford, who is averaging a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds per game.

“He started as a guard last year and we moved him to the post in region play, and he had pretty good numbers.  He’s been triple-teamed, but he continues to work extremely hard.  I’m very proud of him,” Duncan said.

Tommy Belk, the lone senior starter at forward, is adding eight points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals each night.

“He sacrifices his body.  He took three charges last night.  He’s been in the program for four years and he does things that fill up the stat sheet,” Duncan said.

Sophomore shooting guard D.J. Adams has been another scoring threat, putting up 13 points to go with 3.5 steals and 2.6 assists. 

Junior point guard Derrick Jordan (6 points, 3.3 assists, 2 steals) and sophomore guards Kell Brown (6 points, 2 steals) and Sincere Wilmore (6 points, 2 assists) have also spent time in the starting lineup.

“We push the ball and run the floor extremely well.  The guys have played unselfish basketball.  We’ve got a lot of balance.  Identity-wise, we like that fast tempo and try to execute in transition,” Duncan said.

Coming off the bench in reserve roles are seniors Josh Lewis and Zac Roberts, sophomore Jaylen Dunham and junior Telonte Coleman.

Regardless of what the rest of the season holds, expect Great Falls to be in the thick of the championship hunt for the next several years.

“The sky’s the limit when you look towards the future.  We’ll have four starters back, and five of the top six return.  You don’t want to look to far ahead but Class A will change next year.  It should open things up a little more,” Duncan said.

© 2017 High School Sports Report

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