The York Cougars were right where they wanted to be Tuesday while searching for an upset road victory against Rock Hill, the region’s first place team.
Having been through six lead changes and five ties in a seesaw affair, the Cougars were down by one with 59.9 seconds remaining.
Cougars coach Larry Dixon was up on the sidelines, yelling defensive instructions while Bearcats forward Jaylen Reid was fouled on the baseline, resulting in two free throws.
Then, all of a sudden, a technical foul was whistled on the Cougars’ bench. Reid converted both free throws, and then, sank both for the technical. After two Cougars misses, Rock Hill added four more free throws to seal the 59-50 win to remain unbeaten in Region 3-AAAA.
“If they were to have made the free throw, what I was yelling at my players was instructions on how to foul so that we could extend the game,” Dixon said in explaining the technical.
“I was just telling them that we may have to foul sooner and that was it. Nothing else was said.”
But in the same breath, Dixon did not put the entire outcome on the technical, saying that the Cougars did blow several early opportunities to build an early lead.
“We missed some easy ones in the first half where we could have built ourselves a lead,” he said. “However, we are still young, but did seem to understand the importance of tempo and shot selection.”
Rock Hill, 5-0 in the region, saw the game slow down with York’s patient offense. Bearcats coach Eric Rollins said the Cougars’ strategy changed his team’s rhythm.
“Larry is doing a great job with that team and they had a good game plan with a slower pace game where our kids are more used to going up and down,” Rollins said. “We are also coming off of a huge game with another huge one coming up Friday.”
Rollins was referring to last Thursday’s three-point thrilling win over crosstown rival South Pointe and this Friday’s contest against the Bearcats’ other city rival, Northwestern.
“No doubt, this was a tough spot for us. This one wasn’t pretty, but our guys hung in there.”
York, 1-4 in league play, trailed 26-22 at the half, and took a 33-32 edge when sophomore forward Deshaw Andrews scored on the inside. Reid later sank a medium-range jumper for a two-point Bearcat edge, but York guard Daurice Simpson swished a jumper to tie the game, 35-35, entering the fourth quarter.
The game remained tied, 39-39, but Rock Hill guard Warren Vinson drained two three-pointers, sandwiched around another deep jumper from Reid for a 48-42 lead with 3:57 remaining.
York, however, stayed within striking distance and scored six unanswered points. Kaiyon Schrouder scored on the inside; Andrews sank a jumper; and Simpson netted two free throws to pull the Cougars to within one, 51-50, with just under 1:00 remaining.
Reid was then fouled before the crucial whistle which signaled a technical against the York bench. Rock Hill went on to score the game’s final eight points, all from the free-throw line, to seal the victory.
Reid and Andrews scored 20 points each to lead their respective teams.
Rock Hill 59, York 50
York — Markell Castle 11, Daurice Simpson 13, Deshaw Andrews 20, Kaiyon Schrouder 4, Tawann Neely 2.
Rock Hill — Malik Crawford 7, Warren Vinson 15, Jaylen Reid 20, Roderick Howell 2, Jaleel Scott 11, Jamil Simpson 4.
3-pointers — York 3 (Castle, Simpson, Andrews), Rock Hill 5 (Reid 2, Vinson 3). Team fouls — York 12, Rock Hill 13. Fouled out — None.
Records: York 5-8, 1-4 in Region 3-AAAA; Rock Hill 11-4, 5-0.