The Fort Mill girls battled through a rocky start to their 2011-12 season but meshed as a team when it mattered most.
The team finished two games over .500 in Region 4-AAA play.
But on Monday night, in their first playoff game in years, the Yellow Jackets fell 58-38 to the Union County Yellow Jackets.
Fort Mill's lack of a consistent perimeter threat was exposed time and time again in the loss.
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"We started our season rough, but we really came together around the holiday season," said Fort Mill coach Christene Benyak. "This loss was tough on our seniors, but really laid some building blocks to help us improve even more next season."
The first quarter was a contest between Union County's streaky jump-shooting and Fort Mill's post game, with all of Fort Mill's five baskets coming from inside the paint. Union County's offense revolved around the play of point guard Kristin Giles, who scored 10 of her team's 17 first-quarter points despite her 3-for-9 shooting from the field.
Even with seven turnovers in the first quarter alone, Fort Mill kept within striking distance.
But in the second quarter, the Union County lead climbed to as many as 17 points, as it hit eight of nine shots in the quarter. Union County also clamped down defensively over Fort Mill, which looked uncomfortable and took many forced shots, leading to a 5-for-14 shooting performance in the quarter.
Fort Mill went into halftime down 14 to Union County.
The bright spot in the game for Fort Mill was Ally Abbott, who had 15 points in the game, a season-high for the freshman forward. But Union County's lead only grew in the second half as Giles finished her night with a game-high 26 points.
Before Monday night, the last time the Yellow Jackets made the Region 4-AAA postseason was in 2006.
Union County 58,
Fort Mill 38
Union County--Kristin Giles 26, McKale Hardy 13, Andrea Eison 7, Shoulda Stevens 5, Chelise Morman 3, Mariana Eison 2, Diamond Lee 2
Fort Mill --Ally Abbot 15, Carley Ross 10, Lauren Wood 7, Bri Stepney 6
3-pointers -- Union County 5 (Giles 3, Stevens, Eison), Fort Mill 0. Team fouls -- Union County 10, Fort Mill 12. Fouled out: none.
Records: Fort Mill 10-13; Union County 13-7