The Northwestern boys had to pick themselves up off the deck and make a quick turnaround after almost handing the first-place South Pointe Stallions their second loss Monday night.
Tuesday was senior night, but more importantly the Trojans were playing for their playoff lives against Nation Ford.
The Trojans hit 10 free throws in the fourth and held off the Falcons 46-43 to strengthen their playoff chances, pending the outcome of Clovers game at Rock Hill, which Northwestern plays Friday.
Spent a lot of emotions last night, Northwestern coach Mike Gossett said.
The Trojans only hit two shots from the field in the final quarter but were 10-of-17 from the free-throw line. They scored their first six points of the quarter from the charity stripe to finish off an 8-0 run that started when junior forward Mustafia Love scored with eight seconds left in the third to break a 30-all tie.
Senior guard LaThomas Long had five of his six fourth-quarter free throws during that spell and finished with nine points. One of those two baskets from the field in the quarter was a big one that finished off the scoring for the night.
After Jordan Causey made two free throws for Nation Ford to cut the lead to 44-43 with 16.7 seconds left, the Falcons were unable to foul as Northwestern broke the press and sophomore forward Manzi Hill drove to the basket for two with six ticks remaining. Nation Ford inbounded and hurried the ball upcourt, and the Trojans knocked it out of bounds with 0.9 seconds on the clock.
After a timeout and inbounding the ball on the far sideline, the Falcons set up a 3-pointer in front of their bench for Carson Smith, who led all scorers with 16 points. He had to catch and release quickly and the desperate heave drew nothing but air.
Northwestern 46, Nation Ford 43
Northwestern - Mustafia Love 13, Manzi Hill 11, LaThomas Long 9, Rontavious McClure 5, Clenzo Ross 5, JaReg Feely 2, Mason Rudolph 1.
Nation Ford - Carson Smith 16, Riley Hilton 11, Jordan Causey 5, Justin Sergent 5, Nick Turner 4, Ben Sidebathem 2.
3-pointers - Northwestern 1(McClure) Nation Ford 4(Smith 2, Sergent, Turner) Team fouls - Northwestern 15, Nation Ford 20. Technicals - Northwestern 2(Long, McClure)
Records: Northwestern 11-13, 7-6 Region 3- AAAA; Nation Ford 9-14, 5-8.