It's been a long time coming for Rock Hill.
The Bearcats snapped a 10-game losing streak against Northwestern on Tuesday night with a 65-64 nail-biter in the third-place game of the Y.C. Winborn Classic at Rock Hill High School.
Rock Hill, a team that won just six games a year ago, improved to 5-3. Northwestern fell to 5-4.
The Bearcats took their first lead with 61 seconds left in the game on a baseline jumper by Savion Thoms. They regained the lead for good, 62-60, on Roderick Howell's lay-up off a Thoms feed.
Northwestern's attempt to tie the game was swatted away when LaThomas Long's shot was rejected by Rock Hill's Matthew Harvey.
Trailing by three with less than a second on the clock, Northwestern's Julius Durham rebounded a missed 3-point attempt and was fouled. He sank the first of two free throws. His attempt to miss the second instead resulted in a successful bank shot to end the game.
"Our kids fight. When we play like we did tonight, we aren't a bad team," Rock Hill coach Eric Rollings said.
Rollings knew it had been a few years since the last win against Northwestern. A check of the records showed Rock Hill's last victory over its rival came on Jan. 12, 2007, a 51-43 decision across town. It's been since Jan. 20, 2006, that Rock Hill beat the Trojans at home.
Thoms scored 23 points to lead all scorers and Jamel Jones had 16 to pace Rock Hill. Montrece Kennedy finished with 21 for the Trojans.
Northwestern jumped out to an early 13-2 lead by getting transition baskets and spot-up 3s. It was 24-13 after a Rontavius McClure dunk with a minute left in the first quarter.
"We weren't doing a good job in transition defense. Once we made some shots, we got into it," Rollings said.
Kennedy had 12 first-quarter points before being whistled for his second personal foul. He sat the rest of the half.
Rock Hill cut the lead to six before the second quarter began.
McClure and Montrece Kennedy combined for 23 points in the first half, and the Trojans led 37-34 at the break.
Rock Hill closed to within a point, 39-38, on a Thoms baseline jumper midway through the third quarter. Long countered for Northwestern by driving all the way to the rim to extend the lead. He followed with a three-point play and then two more free throws to push the lead back out to eight points.
Jones, an all-tournament selection, sparked the Bearcats early in the fourth quarter. His steal and lay-in drew Rock Hill even at 50 with 5:41 to go. Jones, a sophomore, is averaging 19.5 points a game over his last four contests.
Northwestern's Keith Bell hit a 3-pointer from the corner to give the Trojans a 55-51 edge and a little breathing room with 4:08 remaining. Bell finished with 10 points and was named to the all-tournament team.
A three-point play by Eric Robinson tied the game again at 58. Robinson scored nine of his 11 points in the second half.
"We got hot early, but we knew it wasn't over," Northwestern coach Mike Gossett said. "It came down to our inability to make free throws and Rock Hill getting to the loose balls."
ROCK HILL 65
NORTHWESTERN: Jahnte McMillian 1 1-2 3, LaThomas Long 2 3-4 7, Jallen Orr 1 0-0 3, Montrece Kennedy 9 1-4 21, Keith Bell 3 1-2 10, Julius Durham 1 4-4 6, Rontavius McClure 5 4-7 14. Totals 22 14-23 64.
ROCK HILL: Charles Johnson 1 0-0 2, Jamel James 6 3-4 16, Eric Robinson 3 5-8 11, William Killian 0 3-4 3, Trey McCullough 0 1-2 1, Matthew Harvey 1 0-0 2, Savion Thoms 9 5-6 23, Octavius Thompson 1 0-0 2, Roderick Howell 1 0-0 2, D.J. Hemphill 0 2-2 2, Tre' McCullough 0 1-2 1. Totals 22 20-28 65
3-pointers -- Northwestern 6 (Bell 3, Kennedy 2, Orr); Rock Hill 1 (Jones). Fouled out -- Northwestern (Long, Orr), Rock Hill-None. Total fouls -- Northwestern 22, Rock Hill 19. Technical fouls -- None
RECORDS: Northwestern 5-4; Rock Hill 5-3