ROCK HILL — Keenan Orr, girls basketball coach at Rock Hill, called it one of those bittersweet moments.
The bitter part, of course, was watching the Bearcats' boys basketball team fall, 52-51, to rival Northwestern before a raucous crowd at the Rock Hill gymnasium.
The sweetness was being a proud father as his son, Keenan Orr Jr., a guard for the Trojans, swished what proved to be the game-winning 3-point jumper to give Northwestern the late lead with 1:17 remaining.
"You know, we have been talking about this game for a long time and he was talking a little trash saying how their team was going to blow us out," the younger Orr said with a laugh. "So this feels good."
Orr's jubilation was shared by the entire Northwestern team, evident with coach Mike Gossett grabbing Orr, guard Keith Bell, and center Rontavious McClure and giving each and big hug outside of the visiting locker room.
"I love these guys; they do not quit," Gossett said. "We have been fighting all year long; we are extremely young and may not have the most talented one-on-one guys.
"We lost a close game on Tuesday against Lancaster, but came back tonight and continued to work hard to get our first win in the region."
Orr's jumper gave Northwestern its first lead since the 5:54 mark of the third quarter. Rock Hill, 15-3 and 2-2 in Region 3-AAA play, erased a five-point halftime deficit 9-2 spurt for a 32-30 edge.
J.J. Jones added a layup on a steal and Deonte Fleming launched a 3-pointer. Eduardo Minuci then brought the Bearcats' fans to their feet with a long-range jumper for a 40-34 Rock Hill lead.
Jones, Fleming, and Minuci accounted for the final three Bearcats hoops in the third quarter for a 46-38 lead. Northwestern remained close as McClure's put back closed the deficit to six, 46-40.
However, the hot-shooting Bearcats, who scored 23 points in the third, suddenly went cold.
"We got great looks, but the shots just did not go in," Rock Hill coach Eric Rollins said. "We just did not make any shots in the fourth. We just need to do the things in the first three quarters to not put ourselves in that position."
Forward Roderick Howell scored on the inside and added another basket from an offensive rebound, giving the Bearcats a 50-43 advantage at the 4:45 mark. Fleming accounted for the only other point, a free throw with 2:35 remaining.
Northwestern, which trailed 51-47 at that point, pulled to within two when Mustafa Love drove the lane to sink a mid-range jumper with 1:59 remaining. A Rock Hill turnover gave Northwestern possession with 1:46 remaining.
Following a timeout, the Trojans patiently worked its offense, until Orr was found in the right corner. The senior guard pulled up and calmly sank the 3-point jumper for a 52-51 lead.
The Bearcats missed a jumper, but after committing two fouls, regained possession on a Trojans turnover with 36 seconds remaining. Rock Hill immediately handed possession back to Northwestern as guard Dre Williams lost possession out of bounds.
Northwestern guard Keith Bell was fouled and went to the line, but missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Bearcats grabbed the rebound a Minuci, a deadly perimeter shooter, spotted up for an open look from the corner.
The shot appeared to be on the mark, but rimmed out.
Following another Trojans missed free throw, Jaylen Reid had an open look from the perimeter, but his attempt also bounced off the rim with 6.6 seconds remaining.
Northwestern, which went 6 of 14 from the free-throw line, missed another foul shot. Minuci grabbed the board and dribbled down for the final Bearcat possession. The Trojans' defense, however, forced a loose ball, which was picked up by forward Mason Rudolph as time expired.
"This was our first region win," Bell said. "I know it came against Rock Hill, who was playing well and is a good team. But what is most important that this was our first win in the region and we want to keep it going from here."
Northwestern 52, Rock Hill 51
Northwestern -Keith Bell 4, Jhante McMillian 2, Keenan Orr 8, Rontavious McClure 20, Mustafa Love 10, Mason Rudolph 4, Manzi Hill 4.
Rock Hill -- Jamel Jones 16, Eduardo Minuci 9, Jaylen Reid 3, Roderick Howell 4, Dre Williams 8, Deonte Fleming 9, Barry McManus 2.
3-pointers -- Northwestern 2 (Orr 2), Rock Hill 6 (Jones 1, Reid 1, Minuci 1, Williams 2, Fleming 1). Team fouls -- Northwestern 11, Rock Hill 17. Fouled out -- None.
Records: Northwestern 10-8, 1-3 in Region 3-AAAA; Rock Hill 15-3, 2-2.