Rock Hill held homecourt Tuesday night, thumping Nation Ford 70-40 in boys’ basketball.
Eric Rollings’ crew out-scored the visiting Falcons 20-5 in the third quarter to grab a scrappy game by the scruff of the neck. Jamil Simpson led the Bearcats with 14 points and Jordan McCraw and Warren Vinson added 11 each and Stephon Whitlock 10, as they cruised to a win in their last tune-up before a big rivalry contest Friday at South Pointe.
This year’s Bearcats boast none of the height that bejeweled the 2012-13 roster, but they played to their strengths Tuesday night, speeding up the Falcons with all-action defense, and burying open shots when they arose.
“You have to adjust to the kids that you have and you have to change some things that I’m not necessarily used to doing,” said Rollings. “But our coaches have done a heck of a job and that’s why we’re playing the way we are right now.”
Rock Hill built a 13-point lead in the first half behind its frenetic defense. The Bearcats’ extended guarding forced Nation Ford into a spate of turnovers and Rock Hill took advantage in transition, getting to the rim or hitting open jumpers from the wings. Rock Hill led 13-7 at the end of the first quarter and a Jamil Simpson 3 capped an 8-2 spurt to start the second, putting the Bearcats up 21-9.
Nation Ford only made four field goals in the first half, living at the free throw line instead. That tactic harkened back to the two teams’ meeting last year in Fort Mill, when Riley Hilton alone shot 22 free throws in a Rock Hill win.
Tuesday’s contest was just as physical and far more testy as both teams drew technical fouls for arguing calls. Rock Hill seemed best able to set aside its annoyance, opening up a 19-point lead (34-15) after Whitlock’s velvety jumper fell through. The Falcons closed the gap before the break though, Dalton Rose knocking down an open 3 to cut the halftime deficit to 34-21.
But the Bearcats blew the doors off the visitors in the opening exchanges of the second half, cooling down a feisty atmosphere. There was even time for freshman Lance Crayton to bank in a 3 with less than a minute, delighting teammates on the bench and the scattered crowd still on-hand.
“We had a couple of bumps in the road that we felt we shouldn’t have lost, but that’s the way it goes,” Rollings said afterward.
Rock Hill 70, Nation Ford 40
NF 9;12;5;14- 40
RH 17;17;20;16- 70
NATION FORD Elijah Jennings 2, Dalton Rose 11, Riley Hilton 13, Mike Campbell 5, Hank Tuipulotu 2, Jacob Patterson 3, Desean McCain 2; ROCK HILL Lance Crayton 3, Warren Vinson 11, Andrew Barber 9, Japree Perry 5, Jordan McCraw 11, Donavon Perryman 2, James Lindsay 1, Trey McCrorey 2, Jamil Simpson 14, Stephon Whitlock 10.
Team fouls: NF- 23; RH- 26
Foul shooting: NF- 12-22; RH- 13-28
3-point shooting: NF- 2 (Campbell, Rose); RH- (Barber 2, McCraw 2, Simpson, Crayton)
Records: NF- 7-7, 1-2; RH- 9-4, 2-1
Nation Ford girls hang on to beat Bearcats
Rock Hill nearly overturned a 16-point halftime deficit, getting to within three points of visiting Nation Ford with 1:51 left in the game, but Mike Smith’s Falcons held on to improve to 7-6, 2-1 in Region 3 play with a 57-50 win.
Nation Ford got a balanced scoring effort from several players, led by Alexis Roccia’s 15. Zippy Lincoln added 13, while standout Taylor Yarborough was limited to seven and left the game early in the fourth quarter with an apparent ankle injury. Rock Hill senior guard Asia Potts poured in 28 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, part of a furious second half rally by Kenny Orr’s Bearcats.
Orr and company had plenty to discuss at the half after the Falcons built a 33-17 advantage in the first 16 minutes of play. Lincoln and Yarborough both scored in the paint, taking advantage of Nation Ford’s interior size advantage, and eighth grade Falcon guard Brooklyn Bailey turned a steal into a layup with 4 seconds left in the first quarter to put the visitors up 16-6.
It was more of the same in the second quarter, but Rock Hill emerged a different unit in the third quarter, out-scoring the visitors 16-3 thanks to Potts’ inspired play. Ultimately, their early hole proved too deep.
Nation Ford 57, Rock Hill 50
NATION FORD Jessie Raniszewski 2, Brooklyn Bailey 8, Zippy Lincoln 13, Alexis Roccia 15, Taylor Yarborough 7, Courtnie Smith 1, Courtney Wells 2, Dani Shaddix 2, Sydney Adams 5; ROCK HILL Trenea Cypress 3, Monique Stevenson 4, Anita Jones 5, Asia Potts 28, Tilandra Staton 6, Whitney Simpson 1, Monet Mackey 3.
Team fouls: NF- 19; RH- 25
Foul shooting: NF- 19-32; RH- 11-24
3-point shooting: NF- none; RH- 3 (Staton 2, Jones 1)
Records: Nation Ford 7-6, 2-1; Rock Hill 5-8, 0-3