With the help of nine turnovers in the final period, Fort Mill was able to escape with a 71-66 win against Aiken.
The Yellow Jackets held a 46-32 lead over the sixth-ranked 4A team in the state after three quarters and looked as if they were going to cruise in the opening round of the 2012 Lindberg Moody Holiday Tournament at Northwestern High School.
But Aiken came back with a fury, pulling within two points at 53-51 in the fourth quarter.
The Hornets were led by senior Shawn Moore’s 27 points, 15 of which he scored in the final period.
Fort Mill will now play the No. 1 team in the state, Irmo, at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals of the tournament.
“The goal is to win, but I see there is a lot of room for improvement,” said Fort Mill head coach Dwayne Hartsoe.
“We hit some huge free throws in the end. This was a good experience for us.”
Free-throws were what separated the teams.
Officials called nine fouls against Fort Mill and 23 against Aiken, including a technical foul against head coach Tony Herrell for complaining about the officiating.
Fort Mill hit 27 of 36 free-throws in the game including 19 of 23 in the fourth quarter.
Jackets senior Harrison Lancaster quietly led with a career high 30 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter.
He went 10-for-13 from the foul line in the game.
The Jackets did score 25 points in the fourth quarter, but only took seven shots from the field.
For the game, Fort Mill shot 51 percent.
Aiken shot 52 percent in the fourth quarter. The team took 75 shots in the game and shot 33 percent overall.
Fort Mill carried a small 27-24 lead into the half, but started the third quarter with a 9-2 run to pull away 36-26. Lancaster made two big 3-pointers, and senior Rylan Wells made the third.
Fort Mill shot 50 percent in the third quarter and played smart, looking for higher-percentage shots within close range of the basket for the majority of the game.
With the slow start in the third quarter, Aiken struggled, hitting just three shots in the period.
The one thing that kept Aiken in the game was its ball handling, which forced Fort Mill into 19 turnovers with the majority of those on steals.
Aiken had 13 turnovers. Six of those were in the second half, while Fort Mill had 10 second-half turnovers and struggled at times even inbounding the ball.
Fort Mill junior Devan Thacker added 13 points, and senior John Paris added 10 to the winning effort.
Fort Mill 71, Aiken 66
Aiken – Shawn Moore 27, Dramel Coleman 12, Ryan McKie 8, Megal Hill 6, Dean Hicks 5, Jaylen Croft 5, John Besson 2, Stacy Toole 1.
Fort Mill – Harrison Lancaster 30, Devan Thacker 13, John Paris 10, Rylan Wells 9, Mike Scurlock 5, Matt Ferguson 4.
3-pointers – Aiken 5 (Moore 3, Hicks 1, Croft 1), Fort Mill 6 (Lancaster 4, Scurlock 1, Wells 1).
Team fouls – Aiken 23, Fort Mill 9.
Records: Aiken 8-3, Fort Mill 6-5.