LANCASTER -- South Pointe coach Brett Childers was quick to dismiss the notion that Tuesday's 51-45 road loss to Lancaster didn't count.
Sure, the Lady Stallions entered the game with a 10-game winning streak and were unbeaten in Region 3-AAAA, having already clinched the league championship.
But still, Childrers said his team's second loss of the season hurt the same as the other one, suffered in December to Lee Central in a holiday tournament.
"We don't want to lose any," Childers said in regards to the theory that it's better for his team to get a loss out of its system in the regular season. "We don't buy into that cliche.
"(Lancaster) is a good team and they made the plays to win tonight. We will learn from this. I told our players before the game that this is a playoff-type situation and we treated it as such."
Meanwhile, Lancaster (13-6, 8-5 Region 3-AAAA) will bring plenty momentum into the playoffs after ending the Lady Stallions' win streak. The Lady Bruins, the fourth seed from the region, also treated the contest as a playoff measuring stick, and are now glowing with confidence.
"This, by far, is our biggest win of the season. Beating the top team in our region and one of the tops in the state is huge for our girls," Lancaster coach Ronnie Robinson said. "South Pointe is a very good team; they have showed that all year.
"So getting this type of win speaks volumes for our program. Our girls grew up tonight; we played hard for four quarters against a very good team."
Playing before an enthusiastic Senior Night crowd, Lancaster led 22-16 at the half before South Pointe made a solid third-quarter surge to cut the deficit to four, 37-34. Lancaster's lead was reduced to one with 4:24 remaining, but Lady Bruins forward Miteka Trueheart took over.
Trueheart dished inside to Quana Jones for a hoop, and then intercepted a pass underneath the Lady Stallions' goal. She drove the length of the court and fed Jones for another interior basket for a 45-40 lead with 2:08 remaining.
The Lancaster lead grew to six when Tesha Tipton sank 1-of-2 free throws, but South Pointe (25-2, 11-1) answered. Ashawna Bost sank the first of two free throws and Tiana Hemphill grabbed the rebound of the second and scored, pulling the Lady Stallions to within three with 57 seconds remaining.
After forcing a Lady Bruins miss, South Pointe came up empty on its next possession as Lancaster was awarded possession after a jump ball. Lancaster burned the clock, forcing South Pointe to foul.
Trueheart sank two attempts with 25 seconds remaining and following a Lady Stallions turnover, Tamesha Fletcher added two more free throws to clinch the victory.
• NORTHWESTERN 57, FORT MILL 36 -- Northwestern isn't quite at .500, but can get there with a win over rival Rock Hill on Friday.
If they do is still up in the air. But one thing is quite visible -- the Lady Trojans are playing more and more like the team that was ranked No. 1 in Class AAAA's preseason poll.
Everything was working in their win over Fort Mill. That's good news for coach John Bramlett, who in his first season has led the team to the playoffs for the second straight year.
The differences in this one boiled down to Northwestern's speed and size advantage against scrappy but undermanned Fort Mill.
As has been the case all season, Gabrielle Bennett, with 16 points, and Kelia Shelton, with 11, took charge.
Bennet had a strong first half with 10 points, leading her team to a 26-15 advantage at the half.
"Because we are taller, coach Bramlett told us to work the ball inside tonight," Bennett said. "We did that and had a good game on the boards."
That was an understatement. Northwestern (10-11, 9-4 Region 3-AAAA) had second and third chances all night, out-shooting Fort Mill 67-35 from the field.
The Lady Trojans put the game on ice in the third quarter. They outscored the Lady Yellow Jackets (3-17, 0-13) 20-11 and opened a 46-26 lead.
"We have some goals and one of them is to finish with a .500 record," Bramlett said. "We can do it, but we still have a game with Rock Hill, which has been playing well.
"It will be a special game. It will be the last time we play Rock Hill in our region for at least two years because of realignment."
• YORK 41, ROCK HILL 39 -- Although eliminated from playoff contention, Rock Hill gave a gallant effort against York and nearly pulled off the upset on Senior Night.
In a game that was close the entire way, York took the final lead with 3:27 remaining when Erika Shannon converted two shots from the free throw line to give her squad a 40-39 lead. The Lady Cougars went into a stalling offense, draining the clock and eliminating offensive opportunities during the waning minutes.
Thanks to some missed free throws by York, the Lady Bearcats had four opportunities to re-take the lead in the final minute of the game, but each shot fell just short.
Shandrice Erby, playing in her final home game, had two of the four chances with her team down a single point. Erby drove the baseline with 30 seconds remaining, but her attempt rolled around the rim as the home crowd waited for what seemed like forever.
The shot slowly rimmed out into the hands of York's Nardia Robbins, who was immediately fouled.
Robbins couldn't convert either attempt, and the Bearcats looked to Erby one last time to take the lead. Erby's last attempt was a jumper from the right lane which wedged between the rim and backboard.
Each team built first-half leads only to see the margin disappear before halftime.
The first half looked more like a tennis match than a basketball game. The teams combined for 26 turnovers during the first two quarters. York's full-court pressure defense caused trouble for the Lady Bearcats, but as soon as Rock Hill broke the press, it resulted in several easy buckets on the other end.
The Lady Bearcats (8-13, 4-9 Region 3-AAAA) ended the first quarter by scoring the final nine points, seven from Erby. The 13-7 Rock Hill lead was the team's largest of the game.
The Lady Cougars (17-5, 10-3) responded with a run of their own, scoring nine consecutive points after Shannon hit a 3-pointer with five minutes remaining in the half.
The game saw six ties and 11 lead changes. The win ensured at least a tie for second place in Region 3-AAAA, and York can ensure at least one home playoff game if it can beat archrival Clover on Friday.
"This was a nice team win, but you have to give Rock Hill a ton of credit," York coach Paula Blackwell said. "They played like giant-killers and gave it all the effort they had. The last minute was very nerve-wracking, I still can't see how Erby's one shot did not fall.
"As we move into the playoffs, winning a close game like this will give us some confidence and momentum."
Records: York 17-5, 10-3 Region 3-AAAA; Rock Hill 8-13, 4-9