Both the Northwestern boys and girls varsity basketball teams have started the 2011-12 hoops season as good as one could hope.
The Lady Trojans improved to 3-0 and the boys team won its season opener, both over Fort Mill Tuesday night.
Northwestern's boys capitalized on some open looks at the basket and 50 percent shooting from the field in the fourth quarter to beat Fort Mill 61-56.
"It was a good game for us," said Trojans head coach Mike Gossett. "They are going to be a fun bunch to coach."
The Trojans were led by Jhante McMillan, who dropped in 17, and Keenan Orr, who scored 14.
In the closing minutes of the game, Northwestern got some breakaway baskets to go up 56-52 and then sealed the deal going 5-12 from the line in the fourth quarter.
Both Fort Mill and Northwestern battled back-and-forth, and neither team allowed the other to pull away much. Just when it seemed like one would get a big lead, the other started chipping away.
Fort Mill opened the fourth quarter with a slim 45-44 lead and then went on a 5-0 run. However, the Jackets struggled defensively allowing the Trojans to go hard to the basket and either convert the field goal or draw the foul.
The loss for Fort Mill was the first for new head coach Dwayne Hartsoe, who came from South Pointe High after six seasons there.
"We didn't make some plays we needed to," Hartsoe said. "It's the first real game where it matters. We are still trying to learn each other."
The Jackets were led by seniors Daequon Antoine, who had 14 points, and Riley McGillan, who had 11 points.
Both squads struggled with turnovers early on as McGillan scored eight of his 11 points in the first quarter as the two teams battled back-and-forth.
Northwestern was able to keep pace in the first quarter with Fort Mill by getting to the line more often as they went 6-6 from the charity stripe.
For the game, the Trojans went 21-30 from the foul line.
Northwestern had two big 3-pointers in the second quarter from Orr and Mustafa Love to give them a 24-20 lead after two straight Fort Mill turnovers.
Up by one at the half, Northwestern used its height in the middle to start the third quarter and again get to the foul line early. McMillan went 3-4 in the third quarter from the foul line and scored seven of his 17 in the period.
Fort Mill kept pace with the Trojans as they two used 3-pointers from McGillan and Antoine to stay within striking distance. The Jackets would take a 43-42 lead after two straight Northwestern turnovers toward the end of the period.
Fort Mill struggled from the foul line going 12-23, including going 2-5 in the final period.
Northwestern 61, Fort Mill 56
Fort Mill - Daequon Antoine 14, Riley McGillan 11, Jon Brown 9, Kevin Woods 8, John Paris 5, Devan Thacker 4, Rylan Wells 2, Daniel Barfield 2, Mark Courey 1.
Northwestern - Jhante McMillan 17, Keenan Orr 14, Manzi Hill 10, Rontavius McClure 7, Keith Bell 6, Mustafa Love 5, Mason Rudolph 2.
3 -pointers - Fort Mill 6 (Riley McGillan 3, Daequon Antoine 2, Jon Brown 1), Northwestern 4 (Keenan Orr 2, Rontavius McClure 1, Mustafa Love 1). Team fouls - Fort Mill 23, Northwestern 18. Fouled out - None.
Records: Fort Mill 0-1, Northwestern 1-0.