A third quarter surge got Fort Mill back in the game, but it was senior Jon Brown who took over in the fourth to lead the Jackets past cross-town rival Nation Ford 54-51 Friday night.
Brown scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter as he went 6 of 7 down the stretch to clinch the game for Fort Mill.
"He couldn't find his shot early," said Jackets coach Dwayne Hartsoe, who experienced his first Nation Ford-Fort Mill rivalry game as a coach. "It was an unbelievable atmosphere. This is pretty neat."
The key moment in the game came with about a minute to go. Fort Mill junior Matt Ferguson shot the ball and Nation Ford was called for goaltending. That gave the Jackets a 48-46 lead.
Nation Ford then lost the ball as senior Kevin Woods stole a pass, which set up a three-point play from Brown to put the Jackets up 51-46.
The Falcons' A.J. Jackson hit a 3-pointer to pull within two points at 51-49, but it was the Jackets' free-throw shooting down the stretch that iced the game.
"We didn't get the ball inside enough the whole game," said Nation Ford coach Brian Turner. "We fell in love with the three too much in the first half. Defensively we made too many mistakes in the third quarter. Fort Mill hit shots when they needed to."
Fort Mill was down 31-21 at the half, but opened the third quarter on a 6-2 run on back-to-back 3-pointers by senior Riley McGillan and Ferguson.
Nation Ford's post game kept it in the contest, as Jackson and senior Andrew Komornik each scored 14 points to lead the Falcons.
In the third quarter, the Falcons struggled with turnovers, surrendering the ball more than nine times in the second half.
Fort Mill's resurgence and a hot hand from McGillan, who scored six of his 11 points in the third quarter, pushed the Jackets to within three by the end of the period.
Down 40-37 to start the fourth, Fort Mill continued with the hot shooting, as Brown opened the final quarter to give the Jackets the lead on a 5-0 run which saw Brown hit his only 3-pointer of the game.
Now up 42-40, it was Fort Mill who had the momentum swinging its way.
The Jackets were selective with their shots in the final quarter as they went 5 of 8 from the field.
The game then started going back and forth, but Nation Ford's shots fell short as it shot 45 percent in the fourth.
Both teams shot nearly identical from the field, but Fort Mill edged Nation Ford at the line, making 8 of 10 in the game.
It looked like it was going to be a run away from the opening tip by Nation Ford, as it went up early 9-0 to start the game.
Fort Mill 54,
Nation Ford 51
Nation Ford - AJ Jackson 14, Andrew Komornik 14, Brandon Harris 7, Carson Smith 5, Brandon Sturdivant 4, Kevin Stewart 3, Riley Hilton 2, Chase Bollinger 2.
Fort Mill - Jon Brown 17, Riley McGillan 11, Matt Ferguson 7, John Paris 6, Daniel Barfield 4, Devan Thacker 4, Daequon Antoine 3, Mark Courey 2.
3-pointers - Nation Ford 5 (AJ Jackson 2, Brandon Sturdivant 1, Carson Smith 1, Brandon Harris 1), Fort Mill 6 (Riley McGillan 3, Jon Brown 1, Matt Ferguson 1, Daequon Antoine 1). Team fouls - Nation Ford 17, Fort Mill 11. Fouled out - None.
Records: Nation Ford 12-6, 3-1 Region IV-AAA; Fort Mill 11-6, 3-1 Region IV-AAA.