ROCK HILL — In the end, 32-minutes of intensity of a sizzling cross-town rivalry, which had first place in Region 3-AAAA on the line, boiled down to a long 3-point shot attempt from South Pointe forward Anthony Johnson.
With Rock Hill holding on to a 68-65 lead, Johnson attempted to send the game into overtime with a long shot attempt as the clock ticked down toward zero.
The shot was on line, but bounced off the front of the rim, allowing the Bearcats to escape with a dramatic three-point victory before a full house at the Rock Hill High School gymnasium.
Rock Hill, 4-0 in league play and 10-4 overall, took a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter, only to see the Stallions display a relentless comeback attempt down the stretch.
Two free throws from forward Jaylen Reid gave the Bearcats a 53-40 lead with 1:05 remaining in the third quarter. South Pointe, however, got an offensive rebound and put back from Johnson, and then, a steal and layup from Marveon Motley at the buzzer to pull to within eight, 53-45.
The Bearcats did appear to whether the storm when Jaleel Scott connected on a jumper for a 60-49 lead early in the fourth.
South Pointe then picked up its defensive pressure, forcing several Bearcat turnovers. The result was a 10-2 spurt, capped by Motley deep 3-pointer from the corner, which cut the deficit to 62-59 with 2:37 remaining.
Deonte Fleming powered in an inside hoop for the Bearcats, but Dershawn Davis answered with a score for South Pointe with 1:48 on the clock.
Scott converted one-of-two for a 65-61 Rock Hill edge, but Johnson countered with a layup as South Pointe now only trailed by two, 65-63, with 33.6 seconds remaining.
Following a Stallion miss, Rock Hill had a chance to seal the contest at the line. Guard Warren Vinson made one-of-two, and on sank both after being fouled following a Stallion turnover.
Johnson, however, was fouled and converted both to cut the deficit to three with 12.4 seconds remaining. Jaylen Reid was fouled and missed both attempts, opening the door for one last Stallion attempt.
The ball ended up in the hands of Johnson, who led all scorers with 32 points. His last shot fell inches short of the hole, allowing the Bearcats to escape with the victory.
This was a big win for us. South Pointe came in undefeated and they have an outstanding team. Coach Watson does an outstanding job, Bearcat coach Eric Rollins said.
We played good competition in a tournament in Spartanburg last week and lost all three close games down the stretch. Having been in those close situations may have paid off for us tonight.
South Pointe, who suffered its first defeat, was without the services of standing center PJ Heath, who was ruled out of the contest with a technical foul in the first quarter. Still, Watson did not use that as an excuse.
Our kids fought hard and we gave ourselves a chance to win, Watson said. Tonight, we did not do the little things. Rock Hill got to the loose balls and did an outstanding job on the offensive glass. They got too many second-chance points and that was the difference in the game.
Rock Hill celebrated the victory, but quickly turned their attention to the health of guard Nate Motley, who went down with an ankle injury late in the contest.
Rollins said that Motley sustained a severe sprain, but will get further medical evaluation.
ROCK HILL 68, SOUTH POINTE 65
South Pointe Tay Blake 6, Devin Pearson 2, PJ Heath 6, Chris Frazer 3, Deshawn Davis 2, Anthony Johnson 32, Marveon Mobley 10, Montez McCullough 4.
Rock Hill Nate Motley 9, Warren Vinson 6, Jaylen Reid 14, Roderick Howell 10, Aries Wise 2, Jaleel Scott 7, Deonte Fleming 3, Stephon Whitlock 9, J. Simpson 1.
|South Pointe 15||16||14||20||||65|
|Rock Hill 15||21||15||14||||68|
3-pointers South Pointe 3 (Blake 1, Mobley 1, Frazer 1), Rock Hill 2 (Reid 1, Scott 1). Team Fouls South Pointe 26, Rock Hill 20. Fouled out Heath, Mobley (SP)..
Records: South Pointe 10-1, 3-1 in Region 3-AAAA; Rock Hill 10-4, 4-0.