FORT MILL -- In a battle of teams with first-year coaches, Clover defeated Fort Mill 53-38 Tuesday, leading the Lady Blue Eagles to a 2-0 record in Region 3-AAAA.
Michael Pearson took over for Sherer Hopkins at Clover after being her assistant the past few seasons. Fort Mill is led by coach Todd Bowser, who replaced Scott Barefield when Barefield took the same job at Nation Ford.
The game went in the Lady Blue Eagles' favor throughout much of the game, but the Lady Yellow Jackets had two mini-runs, one in each half, to make the game interesting.
Trailing 21-6 early in the second period, senior guard Megan Killmeyer buried a toe-on-the line 3-pointer. The officials disagreed and after a quick discussion, ruled the bucket a two-pointer.
While the officials were figuring whether or not to add a point for Fort Mill, Killmeyer stole a Clover pass around half-court and drove the lane for an easy layup. Killmeyer scored eight consecutive points for the Lady Jackets (1-7, 0-2 Region 3-AAAA), but the team couldn't close the gap to single digits for the remainder of the half.
Clover's front five dominated the third period and first three minutes of the forth. Paced by Stephanie Dover's 15 points and 11 rebounds, along with Jaclin Poole's eight points and 11 rebounds, the Lady Eagles (3-2, 2-0) built a 22-point lead with six minutes remaining.
Fort Mill took advantage of the Lady Eagles' inexperience off of the bench, forcing Pearson to re-insert his starters after the Lady Jackets reeled off a dozen consecutive points.
The Lady Jackets never let up, but Clover was simply the better team. Fort Mill is getting better, but adjusting to losing players to graduation and re-zoning of the school District.
"We are a team that is coming together," Pearson said. "Every game is a learning experience for me and for the girls. Tonight we learned how to keep a lead. We have played a fairly tough schedule to this point and hopefully it will pay off for us as we get deep into region play. So far, being 2-0 in the region, we are right on track."
• SOUTH POINTE 47, NORTHWESTERN 33 -- South Pointe first-year coach Brett Childers was well aware of Northwestern's Kelia Shelton and her scoring ability. His goal was to devise a defensive scheme to slow her down.
Childers' special defense was more than effective as the Lady Stallions moved to 6-0 (2-0 Region 3-AAAA) with a solid win on the Trojans' home floor.
"Being 2-0 in the region is big," Childers said. "We want to win them all."
One player shadowed Shelton all night.
"We wanted to limit her touches," Childers said. "We didn't expect to stop her but we rotated De'Brea Barber and Shanada Adams in to guard her. They did what we asked them to do."
Shelton finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. She scored 24 in last week's win over Lancaster.
South Pointe led by as many as 16 in the first half. Crystal Douglas led the charge by scoring 12 of her team-high 14 points in the first two quarters.
Tiana Hemphill tossed in 11 points and ripped seven rebounds for the Stallions.
"Hemphill has come a long way since the start of the season," Childers said. "She is developing rapidly. She's been a sponge in practice, absorbing all we are teaching her."
Northwestern is 2-6, 1-1 in the region. Coach John Bramlett was not at all pleased with the way his team performed.
"South Pointe is a well-coached team. They played fast and with confidence," he said. "We played like a poorly coached team. We played slow and looked nervous."
Northwestern plays in the Irmo Holiday Tournament Friday against hosting Irmo. South Pointe will play in the inaugural Y.C. Winborn Tournament at Rock Hill High School. The Stallions will play Ridge View for the third time this season.
• NATION FORD 43, ROCK HILL 37 -- Young Nation Ford made history by recording the school's first Region 3-AAAA victory with a road win over Rock Hill.
The Lady Falcons (3-5, 1-0 Region 3-AAAA) led the majority of the contest but were forced to rally from a late deficit by scoring 11 of the game's final 13 points.
Nation Ford led by six, 20-14, at the half, and maintained control with an eight-point cushion midway through the third. That's when Rock Hill regrouped with the final seven points of the quarter to trim the deficit to one, 29-28.
The Lady Bearcats finally pulled even at 31 when Laquesha Crockett drained a 3-pointer with 4:55 remaining. A basket from Jana Walker put Nation Ford back on top, but Rock Hill answered with Paulette Rivers' offensive rebound and hoop.
Rock Hill finally took the lead, 36-33, when Chelsea Gantt scored off an offensive rebound and netted a free throw after being fouled. Ally Lambert stopped the Lady Bearcats' momentum with a deep 3-pointer which tied the score at 36.
A free throw from Crockett put Rock Hill back on top, 37-36, but that was the final Rock Hill point.
Freshman forward Christina Niedermeier was inserted into the lineup and responded with two clutch inside hoops on consecutive possessions for a 40-37 Lady Falcons lead with 1:58 remaining.
Several errant Rock Hill shots and turnovers allowed Nation Ford to regain possession within the final minute. From that point, the Lady Falcons burned valuable time and sunk a clutch free throw with 12 seconds remaining to preserve the victory.
"I feel that the turning point is when we were able to respond after getting down by three (in the fourth quarter)," Nation Ford coach Scott Barefield said. "We put a freshman (Niedermeier) in the lineup and she responded with four points in a row."
Rock Hill coach Eric Rollings said his team wasn't consistent, particularly with its overall effort.
"What we have been stressing are rebounding and turnovers and those two things really hurt us tonight," Rollings said. "What disappointed us tonight was our overall effort. It is not from one or two players, but we are looking for a total team effort.
"Until we find that, it will be a tough road for us."