Struggles in the fourth quarter by Nation Ford and an oppressive Fort Mill defense allowed the Jackets to take a 48-36 win Friday night from its cross-town rivals in the first of two meetings this season.
The win put Fort Mill at 13-4 overall and 5-2 in Region III, while Nation Ford fell to 11-7 overall and 3-3 in the region.
Fort Mill was led by AJ Foti, who scored 15 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter and Liam O’ Boyle, who added 10, seven of which came in the first half.
Nation Ford had 19 turnovers in the game, including 11 in the fourth quarter as the Falcons went nearly six minutes without scoring.
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“In the first half we were passive on defense,” said Fort Mill head coach Dwayne Hartsoe. “We did pick things up on the defensive end.”
Nation Ford head coach Michael Tew agreed the defensive changes Hartsoe made was what swayed the game in Fort Mill’s favor.
“They picked up their defense,” he said. “They did a good job and had a good game plan.”
Fort Mill trailed at the half 20-19, and Nation Ford extended its lead to open the second half as Cameron Holmes, who led the Falcons with 10 points, hit a 3-pointer to open. Fort Mill was able to tie the game at 23 with consecutive hoops from Adam Pehowski.
The Jackets then started to slow the pace of the game. O’ Boyle hit a 3-pointer for Fort Mill and Ian Corley came right back to hit a 3-pointer of his own for Nation Ford to tie the game at 28.
From there, Fort Mill started to pressure Nation Ford defensively and took a 31-28 lead into the final quarter.
Seeing the defensive pressure was working, Fort Mill went on a 10-0 run to go up 38-28 as Nation Ford struggled handling the ball. The Falcons didn’t score in the fourth quarter until 1:45 left in the game.
Fort Mill also had more opportunities at the line as the team shot 18 free-throws, hitting 15 compared to Nation Ford going 4-of-5 from the line. Nation Ford didn’t shoot its first free-throw of the game until there was 56 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Both teams shot nearly identical from the field as Fort Mill hit one more shot than Nation Ford did. Fort Mill’s defense held Nation Ford to just eight shot attempts in the fourth quarter, while offensively it ran time off the clock by moving the ball around and not taking unnecessary shots.
Fort Mill opened the game on a hot streak hitting six of 11 shots from the field to take a 15-8 lead after the first quarter. However, Nation Ford stormed back to get the lead at the half, by going 5-of-9 from the field in the second quarter, while the Jackets struggled, hitting just one shot.
Nation Ford outscored Fort Mill 12-4 in the second quarter as the Falcons opened the period on a 7-0 run.