The Rock Hill boys' undefeated stretch was being challenged as South Pointe trailed by only one with just under four minutes remaining on Friday night.
The capacity crowd inside the South Pointe gymnasium was gushing with excitement as the Stallions had possession with a shot to take the lead.
The result was a errant perimeter jumper with Bearcats 6-foot-7 junior forward Jaylen Reid grabbing the rebound. He was fouled in the process and went on the other end to nail a clutch free throw to gradually extend the Bearcats' lead.
That pattern continued down the stretch as the Bearcat defense came through with numerous crucial stops and pulled away from their crosstown rivals, 65-53.
Never miss a local story.
The win improved Rock Hill to 6-0. South Pointe fell to 1-5.
Reid, who along with several other lengthy Bearcats, created defensive havoc for the Stallions.
Eduardo Minuci and Jamel Jones, who stand at 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, respectively, joined Reid to account for the final 19 Rock Hill points.
Reid, who finished with 19 points, talked about the Bearcats defense, which held South Pointe to eight points in the final 3:52.
"When we were in the huddle during a timeout, I asked coach if I could guard (South Pointe standout guard) Manzey (Miller)," Reid said. "He is a good player, but I wanted the challenge."
Bearcats coach Eric Rollins said that defense was the theme the entire game, especially down the stretch.
"We talked about that at the half," Rollins said. "We felt that South Pointe was doing a good job at slowing us down for a half."
The result was a 26-25 Stallions edge at halftime.
"We therefore wanted to step up our defensive intensity and by doing that, we were able to dictate the tempo," said Rollins of the final two quarters.
Following Reid's free throw which put the Bearcats ahead, 47-45, Minuci sank a 3-point jumper for a five-point Rock Hill cushion with 3:33 remaining. The Stallions scored when goaltending was called, but went cold from the perimeter on their next four offensive trips.
The Bearcats grabbed the rebound each time and were eventually fouled in ball-control possessions. The result was 13 of 15 from the free-throw line to pull away from the feisty Stallions.
"We fought hard, but they did a good job against us on defense and rebounding," South Pointe coach Melvin Watson said. "We just have to remind our guys to stick with techniques such as boxing out for rebounds.
"However, it is hard to rebound when they got at least a six-inch advantage over you."
Miller, who drained three 3-ponters, led the Stallions with 17 points.
ROCK HILL 65,
SOUTH POINTE 53
South Pointe -- Manzey Miller 17, Cody Blake 8, Xavier Williams 6, Montay Crockett 2, Geral Nabritt 2, Tyreece Brice 4, Jamil Simpson 12, Isiah Rodney 2.
Rock Hill -- Malik Crawford 8, Jamel Jones 20, Eduardo Minuci 14, Jaylen Reid 19, Deonte Fleming 4.
3-pointers -- South Pointe 6 (Miller 3, Blake 1, Simpson 2), Rock Hill 3 (Jones 1, Minuci 2). Team fouls -- South Pointe 23, Rock Hill 17. Fouled out -- Nabritt (SP).
Records: Rock Hill 6-0; South Pointe 1-5.