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Great Falls outlasts Scott’s Branch in an instant classic 73-71 to claim state record 11th state championship

Columbia – After Great Fall’s Kell Brown sank one of two free throws to give the Red Devils a two-point lead at 73-71 with 5.9 seconds to go, they withstood a drive to the basket by Scott’s Branch’s All State player Randy Gibson where the ball was knocked out under the Eagles basket with 1.6 to go, on the ensuing inbounds pass Great Fall’s DJ Adams to give the Red Devils the class A state title.

“We knew Scott’s Branch was going to bring it all game long, so we needed to match their intensity. We were got down late and were able to comeback and make one more play then they did,” said Great Falls head coach Alex Fair. “In the timeout I told our guys now is the time to rise to the equation.

The state title is the 11th for the storied Great Fall’s program which adds to their state record for Championships among men’s basketball teams. They finished the year at 25-3.

“This championship means everything to the school, the community, the students, the faculty and staff. Everybody bought into the it is “We before Me” concept and we are walking out of here state champions” said coach Fair.

For the Eagles of Scott’s Branch, it was a shame they had to lose this game They finished the season at 17-7/7-1. They captured a region championship and a lower state championship, and they lose only two seniors.

“We played hard and I ‘m proud how we competed from start to finish. No one gave us a chance or respected us all year and I told the guys to never give up,” said an upset Scott’s Branch head coach Stephen Nelson.

            The game got off to a fast start as both teams were getting up and down the court a racehorse pace. Adams drained to big threes to help give the Red Devils a one-point lead at 17-16 at the end of the quarter.

            Artavius Stukes and Zakee Rendell score 7 of the Eagles points in the quarter.

            Midway through the quarter Scott’s Branch went on a 6 -0 run to take a 30-25 lead with 3:03 as Isiah Washington scored four points for the Eagles.

The Red Devils Kell Brown for his second three which started an 11-5 Red Devil run to end the quarter. Sincere Wilmore hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give Great Falls a 36- 35 lead at the half.

Great Falls looked like they might run away with game when they started the third quarter on 6-0 run. Adams missed a dunk that would have increased lead to 9, but All State player Kelton Talford started to dominate on the inside as he scored 9 points in the quarter.

Trailing by 10 at 51-41 Scott’s Branches Randy Gibson scored first points of quarter to start 9 -4  Eagle run to cut lead to 3 at 53-50 and then Great Falls Wilmore steal the ball and hit his second buzzer beater at buzzer of the game giving Great Falls a 55-50 lead heading into the final stanza.

“Those two shots by Wilmore were huge. He has done that for us all year,” said coach Fair.

Scott’s Branch battled back in the fourth and tied the game at 61 after Tariq Coard hit one of two free throws. Then Washington hit a lay up to give the Eagles their first lead since the first quarter at 63-61.

The Eagles continue on an 8-4 run to take 71-65 lead. Coard had 8 points in the quarter. The Eagles was 71-68 with 1:28 but a put back by Talford to cut Scott’s Branch lead to one at 71-70. Adams then put the Red Devils up for good on a layup at 72-71 setting the stage for the final frantic seconds.

Great Falls was led by Talford with 25 while Adams scored 22 and Brown tallied 12 points on the night.

The Eagles were led by Coard with 14, Gibson had 13 and Washington finished with 10.


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