CLOVER -- The Clover Lady Blue Eagles took advantage of a late Rock Hill drought to down the visiting Bearcats 53-44 in the Region 3-AAAA opener for both schools.
Rock Hill jumped to an early 7-4 lead after back-to-back buckets from Shandrice Erby.
The fast start is something Lady Bearcats coach Eric Rollings had been looking for from his young team in its previous six outings.
"We talked about (getting out to a quick start) in the locker room before the game," he said. "It's not something we've been able to do all season, but tonight we did and didn't get behind early."
While Rock Hill avoided a slow start, it was a scoring lull over the final 2 minutes of the third quarter that doomed the Bearcats.
The Blue Eagles used a 7-2 run to close the first quarter and led by as many as five. Rock Hill's Laquesha Crockett, who finished with a team-high 11 points, added a layup with 32 seconds remaining in the half to draw her Bearcats to within three at the half, 22-19.
Trailing 26-21 with 6:13 left in the third, Rock Hill (3-4, 0-1 Region 3-AAAA) countered the strong inside play of the Blue Eagles with a 9-3 run to take a 30-27 advantage with 2:05 left in the quarter.
Then the drought set in and the Bearcats suddenly found themselves down 14 after Clover went on a 17-2 run with 1:50 to play in the third.
The Blue Eagles limited Rock Hill to two field goals in more than five minutes spanning the third and fourth quarters.
"At the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter, we got our heads down and couldn't score. We turned the ball over, too," said Rollings.
"We had to play catch up from there and we don't do a good job of playing catch up."
Powered by three straight baskets from Rachael Newmister, Clover (2-2, 1-0) regained the lead at 31-30 with 1:06 left in the third. Iesha Wade, who finished with 13 points, added two scores in the run, as did Stephanie Dover and Brittany Bowman.
Bowman's 3-pointer from the left wing put the Lady Blue Eagles ahead 46-32, their largest lead of the night, with 5:31 remaining.
Dover led Clover with a game-high 16 points.
Erby rattled in two free throws with 1:53 left to pull the Bearcats to within 10. After Clover pushed its lead back to 12 on the next possession on a pair of free throws from Bowma, Crockett added two from the line for Rock Hill to bring her team back to within 10.
Rock Hill 9 10 11 14 -- 44
Clover 11 11 15 16 -- 53
• YORK 46, FORT MILL 19 -- In York, the win was nice, but the good news was better.
York improved to 5-0 with a thrashing of Fort Mill, but received more glowing notices for what the team hoped was true. Senior guard Nardia Robbins, working her way back to playing shape after tearing her right ACL on Jan. 9, started and scored nine points, trying as best as possible to limit herself.
The Lady Cougars' sparkplug, Robbins finished with four steals and two assists as York's bench took it home.
"I'm 80 percent back," Robbins said, her knee equipped with a brace and wrapped in several feet of tape and bandages. "I'm adjusting a few seconds at a time."
"She's still getting used to playing," York coach Paula Blackwell said. "She does so many things for us ... she's our captain."
Robbins started but came out soon after the tip, trying to preserve as much strength as possible so she could finish the game. It looked like she might be needed for every precious second as Fort Mill (1-6, 0-1 Region 3-AAAA) kept pace with York from the outset.
The Lady Yellow Jackets, still trying to find some experience on a youth-dominated roster, were as determined as the Lady Cougars (5-0, 1-0) to win the region opener. Megan Killmeyer scored the game's first two points from the free throw line and the teams were off, York employing its frenetic style and Fort Mill trying to find spots in the defense to weave through.
Robbins scored six points in the second quarter as the Cougars began to eke ahead, embarking on an 11-4 run at the end of the frame to stretch the lead to 30-14. Fort Mill tried to hang in but was undone by York's defense, the Lady Cougars pressing and swarming every ball-handler relentlessly and scoring the first nine points of the second half.
"That's our style -- press and trap, create as much havoc as we can," Blackwell said. "We want to be able to limit their offense and also keep fresh legs out there."
The plan worked as York sprinted ahead in the second half, the Jackets only managing five second-half points, all from Jenna White. White broke severe scoring droughts each time, avoiding two blank columns in the box score by draining shots with under a minute to go in each of the final two quarters.
The Jackets ended up with a staggering 37 turnovers, victims of York's press. Not that the Cougars were celebrating -- York turned it over 30 times as several possessions featured multiple steals, missed shots and running without controlling the ball.
"I hope it's learning," said Fort Mill coach Todd Bowser. "Growing pains or something ... we can't continue to keep doing this."
Robbins was able to relax during the second half, hitting a free throw in the third quarter before checking out for good. She said it was difficult to play without trying to go all-out, but considering she has no desire to go through months of rehab work again, she'd deal with it.
"I'm not doing something dumb," she said through a laugh. "I have to know my limit."
Fort Mill 6 8 3 2 -- 19
York 13 17 10 6 -- 46
• NORTHWESTERN 51, LANCASTER 44 -- Kelia Shelton is playing point guard this year. The position is new for the Northwestern sophomore standout -- the point production is the same.
Shelton poured in 24 points, 14 from the free throw line, to lead the Trojans to a Region 3-AAAA win over Lancaster. She made just two field goals in the second half, but went to the line time and time again.
Northwestern, 2-5 overall and 1-0 in the region, seemed to have the game well in hand midway through the fourth quarter. A jumpshot from Mary Kate DuBard and a bucket from Gabrielle Bennett pushed the Trojan lead to 14 points, 46-32.
DuBard and Bennett finished with eight points apiece.
Lancaster's full-court pressure created havoc the rest of the way. Tenisha Howze converted a pair of foul shots to start a 10-0 run for the Bruins. Tamesha Fletcher scored off a steal and Howze got inside for another score. Miteka Trueheart scored on a layup and then assisted on a layup for Quana Jones to cut the lead to four, 46-42 with just under a minute to play.
Shelton controlled the ball from that point, running time off the clock and going to the foul line. She made 6-of-7 free throws in the final 31.2 seconds to put the game away.
"We have to have someone else who can handle the ball other than Kelia. People forget she is just a sophomore," Northwestern coach John Bramlett said.
"Lancaster has very, very good athletes. They have so many that can handle the ball."
Lancaster coach Ronnie Robinson liked what he saw defensively in the fourth quarter.
"We've gotta come out with that kind of energy, not just in the fourth quarter," he said. "That's what has got to happen."
Howze led the Bruins with a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards. Fletcher and Quana Jones also had 10 points for Lancaster.
Lancaster 8 5 13 18 -- 44
Northwestern 8 16 12 15 -- 51
• CHESTER 103, CAMDEN 47 -- Chester's girls basketball team exploded out of the locker room to start the second half and catapulted themselves to a 56 point victory over Camden, 103-47.
The Lady Cyclones scored 61 points after intermission, breaking a 19 point halftime margin wide open.
Micah Wessinger and Jasmine Sanders combined to score 60 points, with Wessinger accounting for 31 and Sanders 29. LaPorshia Carter added 17, and Angel Wilkes 11 for the Lady Cyclones.
Camden 9 14 12 12 -- 47
Chester 22 20 31 30 -- 103
• GREAT FALLS 58, ANDREW JACKSON 29 -- Shardae Lynn's 31 points led the Lady Red Devils past Andrew Jackson in girl's basketball 58-29.
Great Falls came out in the first quarter and dominated, outscoring Andrew Jackson 15-3 and then built a 31-10 halftime lead, and never looked back.
Lakesia Roseboro scored 10 points for the Lady Red Devils, and Nedra Lynn added 8.
Andrew Jackson 3 7 9 10 -- 29
Great Falls 15 16 10 17 -- 58
• SOUTH POINTE 47, NATION FORD 16 -- D'Brea Barber and Chelsea Douglas both scored 9 points to lead South Pointe's girls basketball team past Nation Ford 47-16.
"We got scoring from a lot of different people tonight," Lady Stallions coach Brett Childers said. "I have a lot of faith in the girls we bring off the bench."
Ashwana Bosh added 7 points and eight rebounds to the effort, and Tiana Hemphill chipped in with five points and 7 rebounds.
"Our defense was pretty stifling tonight," Childers said. "We wanted to lock them down and get out and run."
South Pointe 13 7 14 13 -- 47
Nation Ford 6 4 4 2 -- 16
Metrolina 9 11 7 8 -- 35
WCCS 8 4 4 14 -- 30