HANCEVILLE — Wallace State sophomore Jestin Lewis scored 21 points and grabbed seven boards, Lee Moore added 14 points and the top-seeded Lions pulled away in the second half for a 69-45 victory over Bishop State in the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC)/Region 22 Tournament quarterfinals Thursday night at Tom Drake Coliseum.
Wallace State, seeking its third state championship in five seasons, advances to play Lawson State in Friday’s semifinal round at 7 p.m. The teams split their regular-season meetings with each winning on their home courts. Shelton State and Southern Union will play Friday’s semifinal opener at 5 p.m.
It took the Lions (25-6) until the second half to put it into another gear. Once they did, Bishop State had no answer. Wallace State trailed by as many as six points in the first half before tying the game at 18-18 with nine minutes left before intermission. The Lions nursed a 24-22 lead at the break.
“I thought we were tight in the first half. We hadn’t played in a week, and we had been watching a lot of basketball in the meantime. We had some early tournament jitters but overcame it in the second half,” Wallace State coach John Meeks said. “I told them at halftime to loosen up and act like it’s another day on the playground. I thought we did that. Our shot selection was looser in the second half. We got the same shots as we did in the first half; we just made them count. I thought that was big.”
Marcus Johnson opened the second half by draining a 3-pointer from the top of the key, propelling the Lions to the strong second half. Lewis’ putback in the lane with 12:11 remaining extended Wallace State’s lead to 41-31 and his steal and subsequent slam dunk pushed it to 46-35 with nine minutes left.