Bears come roaring back

The teams went at it like the trainers spiked the Powerade with Red Bull.

Burke County's 71-64 double-overtime victory against Washington County in the Region 3-AAA semifinals Friday was that intense.

"That game there," Burke County junior Devonda Lewis said before exhaling. "I've played in a lot of games. But I don't know what to say about that one. What's going to do all of that justice?"

The first boys' semifinal at Cross Creek had close calls, comeback drama, friends turned rivals, lead changes galore. It also had heavy hearts and hearts set free.

One of those hearts was lifted at the end. It was after the fight to get back in the game from a 36-16 deficit. It was after Burke's Julius Patterson cast his poor free throw percentage aside to force overtime. It was after his team held Washington County to just two points in two overtime periods.

It belonged to Lewis. The heart of the night's leading scorer raced all game like it was energized by several jolts of that energy drink.

"I'm going through a lot of stuff right now," he said. "This whole tournament is another layer of all this pressure I have right now. This takes a little off all of that tonight."

His grandmother Kety Smith is ailing. His father Danny Smith is battling a heart condition. A mentor passed away last year. He will be at the funeral of another family friend on Sunday.

"Then there's school and grades and all that," he said. "I'm just trying to get by right now."

So that 16-point deficit was the small stuff to a hyper-aggressive Washington County team.

But then again it wasn't.

"This is an outlet," he said. "It's what relieves my stress right now."

Lewis felt none of it against the Golden Hawks. He saw his team down 12-4 early on and started shooting. He scored on drives and from 3-point territory.

He kept shooting and slashing in making 11 of his first 13 shots. He had 15 points at the half and on his way to 31.

"I had nothing left there at the end," Lewis said.

He still tied the game at 62 with 37 seconds left in regulation. He still made two key steals and sank five of six free throws during the second overtime period.

There were seven lead changes from the fourth quarter on. Both teams missed chances at the end of the first overtime.

Washington County had a clutch 3-pointer wiped off by an offensive foul with 13 seconds left.

The Bears missed a tip-in with two seconds to go in that same overtime.

Lewis made vital plays on both ends of the court through all of it.

"He carried us through stretches tonight," Burke County coach Purvis Dukes said.

"Devonda's a great athlete and a competitor. Now he's learning what it takes to be a great basketball player," he added.

But it was no-one man show.

Patterson had 12 points. Dustin Golden had three key steals and three big assists. Maurice Doyle had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Everyone one of those young men had a hand in advancing their school to their first region championship game since 1988.

The Bears (22-4) face the winner of Friday's late Glenn Hills-Thomson game tonight at 8:30.

Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or jeff.sentell@augustachronicle.com.

REGION GLANCE

FRIDAY'S SEMIFINAL RESULTS

BOYS

Burke County 71, Washington County 64 (2 OT)

Glenn Hills 69, Thomson 50

SATURDAY'S GAMES

REGION CONSOLATION GAME

Thomson vs. Washington County, 5:30 p.m.

REGION CHAMPIONSHIP

Glenn Hills vs. Burke County, 8:30 p.m.