Bearcats break out with first win of year

CLOVER -- Rock Hill built a third-quarter lead it never relinquished en route to picking up its first win of the season, a 49-39 victory over Clover on Friday.

The win also gets the Bearcats off to a good start in Region 3-AAAA play as the matchup with the Blue Eagles was the region opener for both teams.

After a sluggish opening quarter, Rock Hill limited Clover to two field goals in the second quarter.

"As the game started out, I thought (my coaching staff) was going to have to give me a shot of adrenaline because neither one of us could score," said Rock Hill coach Bobby Stevens. "I looked up at the clock. There's six minutes to go (in the first quarter) and there's still doughnuts up there."

The Bearcats began to play tighter defense in the second quarter and took advantage of a few timely baskets to grab the lead, 12-11, at the 2:26 mark.

A Tirelle Williams 3-pointer with 10 ticks on the clock put the Bearcats up six. Clover's Chris Lindsay was fouled on a 3-pointer at the buzzer and went to the line for three shots. He made one and Rock Hill led by five at the half.

Rock Hill's offense settled down following intermission and the Bearcats built a 12-point lead by the end of third as the two teams headed to the fourth with Rock Hill in front 35-23.

"I thought we did a good job tonight playing team basketball," said Stevens. "Mario McCullough did a great job with senior leadership on the back side of our defense and he got our offense going."

McCullough took over the third quarter and helped fuel the Bearcats as they extended their lead. He opened the quarter with a floater from the left side and followed on the next Rock Hill possession with a driving layup, giving his Bearcats a seven-point edge just 50 seconds into the second half.

Alex Robinson and Williams each drilled 3-pointers before McCullough's jumper with 1:10 left in the quarter gave the Bearcats its first double-digit lead of the game, 33-23.

Stevens was able to play some players off the bench. Colby Nevin and Mike McClure provided some needed scoring depth for the young Bearcats squad.

Nevin grabbed an offensive rebound with just one second remaining and his putback gave the Bearcats a 12-point working margin heading into the fourth. He finished with nine points.

McClure added 3 points as he went 3-of-5 from the foul line.

Rock Hill's lead nearly evaporated as Clover forced turnovers on the Bearcats' first five possessions in the fourth quarter. The Blue Eagles trimmed the deficit to five on a Lindsay layup with 4:19 to play.

The Bearcats were held scoreless over the first 3:33 of the fourth, allowing Clover to cut into the lead.

"We called a timeout and got our heads back into it," said Stevens. "We started running our offense and got the easy shot instead of forcing the shots."

Lindsay's basket would be the last for the Blue Eagles until Alexander Wiley ended the Blue Eagles drought with 67 seconds left.

Rock Hill pushed its lead back to 14 after Williams picked off a pass at midcourt and took it in for the score.

Rock Hill 49 Clover 39