Suspenseful? You bet.
Closer than the final score? You make the call.
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South Pointe's 58-44 Region 3-AAAA victory over the visiting Rock Hill Bearcats had the crowd buzzing Friday night. It also had Bearcats coach Bobby Stevens shaking his head at what he'd just seen in his team's loss.
"It was bizarre out there tonight," Stevens said. "I saw some calls I haven't seen before. Two inadvertent whistles in the same game?"
It happened twice, and the first had Stevens and South Pointe coach Dwayne Hartsoe on their feet asking if fouls had been called and on what player.
Do-over, the officials ruled both times, giving Rock Hill the ball out of bounds after the first one and South Pointe possession on the dead clock when the second was called.
Interesting and close?
Rock Hill was down to nine players, but stayed with the much more taller and talented Stallions until late in the third quarter. Interesting was the adventure each team had in trying to discover where the rim was located.
When the first half ended, Rock Hill held an 18-16 lead. The Bearcats hit 7-of-21 shots from the field. Northwestern made 4-of-21.
South Pointe (15-4, 9-3 Region 3-AAAA) went ahead 19-18 as the third quarter unfolded on a 3-pointer from C.J. Dreakford.
Rock Hill (7-12, 5-6) answered with a pair of baskets from sophomore post player Colby Niven. After that, it was liftoff time for the Stallions. Led by seven straight points by Stephon Gilmore, South Pointe went on an 11-point run and never trailed again after going up 30-22.
"We played really well, but I think some of the calls and no-calls in the second half hurt us," Niven said. "We play with a lot of energy, and some of that was taken away by the strange calls.
"But we've gotten better since the beginning of the season. And with only nine players left, all of us play hard when we're on the court."
It was close again, and a bit of suspense got the crowd even more into the game with 3:56 remaining.
Rock Hill had the ball in front of its bench and trailed only 45-37 after making a stop on the other end. Stevens let one of the three referees know he wasn't pleased with the way the game was being called and was hit with a technical foul.
Gilmore went to the line and made both technical fouls shot, then on the Stallions' possession, Dreakford drilled a 3-pointer that completed a five-point play for a 48-37 lead.
"The game was very physical," said Gilmore, who scored a game-high 21 points. "This was an important game because we still have a shot at second place. The good thing is we still haven't played our best game."
And the final quarter had a little more of the bizarre feeling Stevens referred to. South Pointe clinched it from the free throw line, where Gilmore, who made nine-of-12, netted his final four.
Stevens wasn't pleased that the free throw situation was so lopsided. The Bearcats were called for 24 fouls, South Pointe 13. Stevens pointed out that the Stallions made 23-of-30 from the line and his team got there only 12 times and hit seven.
"It's a win," Hartsoe said after the game. "Our problem is we aren't shooting well, haven't for the last few games. But in the second half tonight, we got better. Maybe we won't struggle from the floor in our last two regular-season games next week."
Rock Hill 6 12 14 12 -- 44
South Pointe 9 7 23 19 -- 58
South Pointe 58
Rock Hill 44