Northwestern held off Rock Hill 62-57 in boys basketball action Monday night by making the kinds of cold-blooded plays it will need to deliver when the postseason starts Thursday.
The Trojans fell behind in the first quarter but overturned the deficit by halftime and never trailed in the second half.
But Rock Hill was on the hosts heels every step of the way, cutting the deficit to as little as little as one point with less than 2 minutes to play.
Warren Vinson, who led the Bearcats with 25 points, hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 19.4 seconds left, before Rock Hill forced Northwestern into a five-second call on the ensuing inbounds play. But Vinson's desperation pass into the Rock Hill backcourt was broken up and Northwestern came down with the loose ball, drawing a foul, and then another foul on the next play to put Quadarius Fair at the line. The senior made both of his foul shots and the Trojans clung to the win.
This was a game of emotions and swings and runs said Northwestern coach Larry Davis, and if we can sustain their punch. We came in with the mindset that it was going to be a 32-minute game and our players bought into it and played a complete 32-minute game.
The Bearcats broke out to an early lead, Vinsons steal and layup promped a timeout from a peeved Davis with his team trailing 13-4. The Bearcats led 18-11 after the first, but the hosts immediately set about scraping away at the deficit.
Manzi Hill finished inside plus the foul, then slammed home a lofted alley-oop from Malcolm Anthony in transition to cut the Rock Hill lead to 25-21. Vinson scored five points straight, including a 3 with a defender directly in his face, to make it 30-21. The Trojans outscored Rock Hill 12-0 the rest of the quarter though, Anthonys late 3 off of good ball movement by Northwestern sending the hosts jogging into the locker rooms with the 33-30 lead.
After an evenly played third quarter, Anthony, who scored 12 for the Trojans, hit a 3 to get Northwestern off to a good start in the fourth. Vinson answered with a triple to cut the Trojan lead to 51-47, and several minutes later dashed into the passing lane and pilfered a lazy Trojan lob before going the other way for a slam to cut the Northwestern advantage to 56-55 with 1 minute, 45 seconds left.
But Vinson couldnt do it alone in the clutch and Northwestern counted on a number of contributors.
Clenzo Ross, who led Davis squad with 17 points, went behind the Rock Hill fullcourt defensive pressure, caught a baseball pass, dunked the ball home and was fouled to put Northwestern up five, a lead they would hold for good in the last regular season game of 2013-14.
Warren is a good little player, said Davis, whose team held Vinson to single digit scoring in the two teams first meeting. I knew he would come out guns loaded and ready to fire today. In the fourth quarter I thought our guys did a great job defending him, making him work for every shot, and that's all you can do against those good players, the L.J. Peaks, the Warren Vinson's and the Tyreece Bric's.
Rock Hill will face Gaffney on the road Thursday in the opening round of the Class AAAA state playoffs, while Northwestern will host one of three teams tied for third place in Region 2-AAAA, either Boiling Springs, Wade Hampton or Byrnes.
Rock Hill 62, Northwestern 57
Rock Hill: Warren Vinson 25, Japree Perry 8, Jordan McCraw 6, Jamil Simpson 8, Stephon Whitlock 10; Northwestern: Malcolm Anthony 12, Dewayne Hemphill 7, Ja'Reg Feely 4, Manzi Hill 16, Clenzo Ross 17, Quadarius Fair 3, Will Chitwood 2, Ahmad Dewese 1.
Team fouls: Rock Hill 14; Northwestern 14.
Foul shooting: Rock Hill 6-8; Northwestern 14-19.
3-point shooting: Rock Hill 7 (Vinson 3, McCraw 2, Simpson 2); Northwestern 2 (Anthony 2).
Records: Rock Hill 16-8, 9-5; Northwestern 20-5, 11-3.
Trojan girls hold off pesky Bearcats
Northwestern finished the Region 3-AAAA girls' basketball season in second place after pulling out a 63-62 win over the visiting Rock Hill Bearcats.
Rock Hill trailed by 12 points at the half but never quit under assistant coach Shannon Kuhl, who was filling in for head coach Kenny Orr, who was suspended after an ejection in the previous game at Clover.
The Bearcats, led by Asia Potts' 20 points, cut the lead to three points on multiple occasions in the waning moments of the game but could never get over the hump against a Northwestern team that never failed to come up with the necessary play.
Potts' floater in the lane cut Northwestern's lead to three points (56-53) with 3 minutes left, but Thompson answered with a steal and a layup to stretch the Trojan lead. Thompson, who finished with 19 points on her Senior Night, then knocked in two free throws with 1 minute, 23 seconds left to stretch a three-point lead back to five again.
Thompson then made 1 of 2 free throws late to put the Trojans ahead by four, a freebie that proved fateful when Monique Stevenson bombed in a 3 at the buzzer for Rock Hill.
Rock Hill 62, Northwestern 63
Rock Hill 16;5;23;
Rock Hill- Kia Walls 6, Monique Stevenson 15, Logan Jackson 2, Trena Cypress 3, Anita Jones 5, Asia Potts 20, Amber Strait 4, Tilandra Staton 6; Northwestern- Ieshia Love 9, Aubriana Thompson 19, Tiana Lewter 2, Na'Kenya Graham 5, Paige Samuelson 15, Tyler Kent 1, Courtney Cunningham-Heath 6, Lauren Reese 4.
Team fouls: Rock Hill 17; Northwestern 20.
Foul shooting: Rock Hill 20-30; Northwestern 11-22.
3-pointers: Rock Hill 6 (Walls 2, Stevenson 2, Jones, Staton); Northwestern 4 (Thompson 2, Love, Graham)
Records: Northwestern 17-7, 11-3; Rock Hill 8-16, 3-11