FORT MILL -- Former Region 3-AAAA grappling foes Fort Mill and Lancaster met with a little more on the line than some of their previous matches in the first round of the state Class AAAA playoffs. Lancaster struck first, but the Yellow Jackets roared back and defeated the Bruins, 53-24, Monday at Fort Mill High School.
The match took less than an hour. Other than the two forfeits, 11 of the 12 matches were settled in the first two periods, all on pins.
The draw was at the 215 weight class and the Bruins got off to an excellent start and looked poised to pull the upset over the number three team in the state. Bruin Clay Rollins pinned Brandon Medena with 25.7 seconds in the first period.
That put the Bruins ahead 6-0, but the lead was very short-lived. Fort Mill's Garrett Pasatorie pinned Mawrashan Rooney in less than a minute, and the momentum immediately slipped right back to the Yellow Jackets.
Fort Mill scored pins on the next five matches, and from that point on the only thing in doubt was the final outcome.
Quentarius Degoneffried and Joe Craig picked up wins for the Bruins, but Fort Mill dominated the first-round match.
Lancaster battled tough against one of the top teams in the state, but it seemed like each time a Bruin had a lead on points, a Yellow Jacket wrestler would rally back for a pin.
Fort Mill's Drew Cunningham was down 10-1 in the second period of the 171 weight class. Just as it seemed the Bruins would gain a victory, Cunningham turned on Ervin Moore and picked up the pin.
Max Simons entered the match with an undefeated 36-0 record, but as the last game of the night, Fort Mill coach Chris Brock opted not to risk injury and save Simons for what his hopes of a long run in the playoffs.
"We have a lot of freshmen playing this season," said Brock. "Tonight we made some early mistakes based on inexperience, but we always did a great job of bouncing back and getting the pin.
"It is sometimes hard for a team to get motivated in an environment with only a few fans in the stands, but it is critical that we treat each and every match like it could be our last. When it comes to playoffs, you never know what might happen, and I think our kids responded well to the challenge this evening."
Fort Mill advances to the second round where they will host the Dorman Cavaliers Wednesday night, while Lancaster's season ends with a 5-8 record.
North Central 6 8 12 6 -- 32
Indian Land 20 15 19 19 -- 73
North Central 16 21 14 26 -- 77
Indian Land 21 20 24 21 -- 86