High School Sports

Whale Branch boys will have to contend with Lewisville guard Walls

Lewisville, led by guard Qua Walls (23), faces Whale Branch Early College High School on Saturday in Columbia for the Class 1-A state basketball championship.
Lewisville, led by guard Qua Walls (23), faces Whale Branch Early College High School on Saturday in Columbia for the Class 1-A state basketball championship. Jenna Thompson -- The Herald (Rock Hill)

The 2012-13 high school basketball season gave thoughts of doubt to Lewisville guard Qua Walls and his teammates.

How could the Lions win their football region championship beating teams that have been the front-runner every year, then start off so bad in basketball?

"We lost our first-round playoff football game, 57-56, to St. Joseph's of Greenville," Walls said, "but instead of getting down, we were up, thinking even in a loss that big, our program was on the turnaround.

"Then, when basketball season started, we began to lose, and before we knew it, we were 0-6. When we looked at the schedule, we saw all these teams in higher classifications than us left on our schedule, and thought, 'How in the world are we going to beat them?' "

The answer was Larry Davis, Lewisville's second-year coach, who never gave up on his kids.

Davis treated most post-game lectures as sermons, teaching his players lessons and relaying to them stories from his days playing at Denmark-Olar High School and the University of South Carolina.

Davis also decided it was time his Lions started playing like those Gamecock teams he played on, switching to a three-guard offense. Davis said Tuesday it wasn't to emulate what he'd been part of at Carolina, it was to make sure the best five players were always on the floor and that they were applying pressure on defense at all times.

That, Walls said, is when Lewisville started to turn it around. The Lions are 20-7 and on Saturday play Whale Branch Early College High School at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia at 12:30 p.m. for the Class 1-A state championship.

"When you consider we lost our first six games and have only lost one since, then you can see how the momentum of buying in to what Coach Davis kept telling us paid off," Walls said. "Davis drove the concept of defense first, to the point of preaching it to get all of us on the same page. He has shown us that strong defense can produce easy offense. He said we are the top defensive team in Class A and we're not about to doubt him, as far as we've come."

Davis has 10 players, but the five starters play the majority of every game. Each has his role, but Walls is the heart and soul of the team.

As quarterback of the Lions' football team, he rolled up more than 2,800 total yards and more than two dozen touchdowns, but Walls knows where his future lies. Although he loves basketball, too, and proclaims he doesn't have a favorite sport, he knows there's no room for a 6-foot-1 guard. He also knows there's not a lot of college football coaches looking for 6-1 quarterbacks.

So he's waiting to decide on going to prep school -- which will give him four years of college eligibility -- or community college -- which will leave him three -- before making his choice. He will play defensive back, which he played at Lewisville as a two-way starter.

That last bit of information and seeing how well he took to Davis' coaching, is a good picture of what Walls is all about. He's an athlete, a good one, who hasn't let it go to his head. Teams who play against him walk away knowing they just lined up against one of the most competitive and nicest players they'll ever meet.

"Every team we played in the playoffs in basketball, I went and shook hands with every player on the team," Walls said. "I told them that I enjoyed playing against them and I wished them nothing but the best in the future.

"I did it because I knew they wanted to win as much as we wanted to win. And if we lose Saturday, I'm going to be upset. We've come so far from being so low, winning is the only thing left for us to do."