COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Alex Fair admitted that the transition for him at Great Falls was quick.
He was named the head coach of the Red Devils one week before the season started, but that wasn’t going to be a crutch for him or his players to go after their goal of winning a state title.
Fast forward to March, Fair and his players will now bring home the Red Devils’ 11th state title thanks to a 73-71 win over Scott’s Branch.
“It means everything to the student body, the faculty and staff, Great Falls as a town,” Fair said. “It’s phenomenal. Everybody bought in our concept ‘We Over Me.’
In a game that went back and forth between the Red Devils and the Eagles in the first half, neither team was able to gain true separation. However, a 13-point effort by DJ Adams in the first half lifted Great Falls to a 36-35 lead at the half.
The Red Devils turned up the intensity in the third quarter going on a 15-6 run. Still, Scott’s Branch would not go away. The Eagles would close the gap making it a 3-point game thanks to a bucket by Randy Gibson with nine seconds left in the quarter. Sincere Wilmore countered that with a buzzer-beating jumper from the corner giving Great Falls a 55-50 lead heading into the final quarter.
The Eagles remained resilient. With 3:43 left, a steal and a layup by Isiah Washington gave Scott’s Branch the lead. That started a 10-4 run putting them ahead 71-65. Great Falls would counter with their own 7-0 scoring spurt capped by a pair of free throws by Adams to regain the lead and make it 72-71 with 43 seconds left.
Down by two with one second left, Scott’s Branch had one last chance to tie the game, but a turnover on the inbound pass dashed the Eagles’ hopes of winning.
“I aged about 10 years in the last couple of seconds,” Fair said about the final moments of the game. “I knew they made a run and we were down and their crowd got into it. I told the guys during the timeout, for one second, don’t doubt, we’re going to win this game. I said, ‘We hang our hat on defense.’ We apply a lot of pressure. And sometimes, it’s about finding a way.”
Kelton Talford led Great Falls in scoring with 25 points. Adams finished with 22 points and Kell Brown provided 12 points in the win.
The top scorer for Scott’s Branch was Tariq Coard with 14 points. Randy Gibson ended the day with 13 and Isiah Washington had 10.
Great Falls finishes the season with a 25-3 record. Scott’s Branch falls to 17-7.