BY ROCKY STANLEY
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
RUSSELL Russell senior Landon Brewer has enjoyed a good measure of success against Lewis County on the football field and basketball court.
Lions coach Joe Hampton said one of the priorities on the team’s scouting report for Tuesday night was not to allow the power forward to have a career night.
Brewer lit up Marvin Meredith Gymnasium with a Charles Barkley-esque performance and the Red Devils rallied from an 18-point deficit in the third quarter to win 6461.
Brewer couldn’t miss, hitting 13 shots from in and around the foul lane, to rack up a career-best 27 points. All but six of them came in the second half to spearhead Russell’s comeback.
“He’s our horse and a leader,” Red Devils coach Bryan Groves said. “We couldn’t have asked for any more from Landon.”
The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder, an All-Area football player, came in averaging about eight points. He said Lewis County just seems to bring out his best.
“It’s always been that way ... football the last two years, and basketball the last two years,” Brewer said. “I’ve always done well against Lewis County. I don’t know why.”
Brewer supplied five baskets in each of the last two quarters. He scored Russell’s last six points of the third period, then opened the final quarter by hitting a fallaway jumper while being fouled. His free throw trimmed Lewis County’s lead to 46-40.
“We let him get comfortable,” Hampton said. “We didn’t put pressure on him. We tried to make adjustments, but that didn’t get communicated to the floor very well.”
Brewer said he was really “feeling it” by the time he made a spin move and knocked down the shot to put Russell ahead to stay 59-57 with 1:29 remaining.
“Everybody was doing a great job of getting the ball inside,” Brewer said. “These district wins are big. We didn’t play well in the first half, but Coach gave a good halftime talk and it pumped us up.”
Lewis County, which recently knocked off Lawrence County on the same floor in the Marvin Meredith Classic, pulled to within 62-61 on Cameron Ruckel’s two free throws with 51 seconds left. The Lions had a chance to take the lead, but missed a 3pointer.
Russell’s Seth Atkins sank two free throws to make it 64-61 with 18 seconds to go and Lewis County missed another 3-point attempt at the end.
Lewis County committed 14 of its 20 turnovers in the second half, when Russell turned up its intensity.
“We collapsed,” Hampton said. “They pressed through the game. We handled it well in the first half. As the game went along and as the score got closer, our players got tighter. You could see that.”
Bobby Hale scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half to help ignite Russell, which played the last 19 minutes without top scorer Ethan Raby due to an injury. He took a bad spill near midcourt and sustained a cut on his head. Groves said Raby will go through concussion protocol.
Russell (9-9) trailed 4022 two minutes into the third quarter after Lewis County’s Austin Prank converted a three-point play. Jax Downs jumpstarted the Red Devils’ rally with his team’s only 3-pointer in nine attempts.
Bryce Wallingford led Lewis County (3-12) with 20 points. isaac Kelly added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Wallingford drilled three triples in the first half and the Lions benefited from 13 Russell turnovers.
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