ROCK HILL — The Rock Hill Bearcats moved one step closer to accomplishing a major goal Friday night with a 72-60 victory over Chester in the semifinals of the Y.C. Winborn Holiday Tournament at the Rock Hill High gymnasium.
Rock Hill, who will face Anson County in tonights championship contest, will aim to keep the top prize at home for the first time in the five-year history of the event.
That, said Bearcats coach Eric Rollins, will be a major feat.
We never won this tournament and that is something that we talked about, Rollins said. In the five years that we have been hosting this event, a Rock Hill team has never won. This year, we want to change that.
Chester, 5-6 overall, proved to be a challenging hurdle for the Bearcats on Friday.
The Bearcats, ranked within the top-10 of the Class-AAAA state polls, led the majority of the contest, pulling ahead by as many as 15 near the end of the third quarter.
However, the Cyclones, who displayed relentless hustle at both of the court, would never go away. In fact, Chester got as close as seven with 5:00 remaining after Shyheim Wilson scored consecutive inside hoops to cut the deficit to 60-53.
But as the case with each Cyclone rally, the Bearcats found an answer. Guard Nate Motley drove the lane for a lay-up, and forward Jaylen Reid sank a medium-range jumper while being fouled.
Reid sank the free throw for the old-fashioned 3-point play. After getting a defensive stop, the Bearcats once again got the ball in the hands of Reid, who was fouled while driving to the hoop.
Reid, who scored a game-high 23 points, converted both free-throw attempts, putting Rock Hill in control, 67-53, with less than 3 minutes remaining.
I thought that our post guys play well, and Nate (Motley) always seemed to calm us down during crucial moments, Rollins said. He (Motley) did not have his shot to go down for him a lot tonight, but he had a solid floor game.
Chester coach Sebastian Hopkins saw plenty of positives in the loss, particularly in the relentless play on both ends of the court.
Turnovers really hurt us, especially early in the game, Hopkins said. However, we used speed and athleticism and hung with them neck-and-neck in the second half.
I really liked our effort in the second quarter, and Tommy Sanders and John Gore provided solid minutes in the third quarter. Rock Hill is a solid team, and playing a team like that will help us down the road, especially as we prepare for region play.
Sanders, Wilson, and Gore paced a balanced Cyclone attack with 17, 12, and 11 points, respectively. In addition to Reids 23, the Bearcats got double-figure scoring from Motley and Vinson with 10 points each.
ROCK HILL 72, CHESTER 60
Chester Tommy Sanders 17, John Gore 11, Shyheim Wilson 12, Terrance Morris 8, Stephon Woods 4, Jarrett Rambert 6, Shaq Hinton 2.
Rock Hill Nate Motley 10, Warren Vinson 10, Jaylen Reid 23, Roderick Howell 6, Deonte Fleming 7, Jamil Simpson 9, Stephon Whitlock 7.
Rock Hill 17;20;19;16;72
3-pointers Chester 2 (Sanders 1, Gore 1), Rock Hill 4 (Vinson 2, Simpson 1, Reid 1). Team Fouls Chester 21, Rock Hill 20. Fouled out None.
Records: Chester 5-6; Rock Hill 8-1.