Fort Mill's Yellow Jackets saw a glimpse of the future as they beat Rock Hill 43-34 in a non-region basketball game Wednesday night at Rock Hill High School.
The Yellow Jackets are rebuilding after losing much of their Region 3-AAAA championship team to graduation. If the team jells and plays has hard as they did against the Bearcats, Fort Mill fans have little to worry about.
The game was downright ugly at times. Rock Hill fell behind by a dozen points at the half, but came out of the locker room with a sense of urgency on the defensive side of the ball.
Both teams struggled to get the ball through the hoop for much of the game.
The Bearcats held Fort Mill without a field goal through the first four minutes of the third period but couldn't convert the opportunities on their offensive end of the court.
Reshawn Dupree hit a huge 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the stanza, giving the Jackets a 9-point margin heading into the final period.
The fourth quarter played out much like the third. Rock Hill again turned up their defensive pressure and held the Yellow Jackets off of the scoreboard until Andrew McCartney finally scored a basket with 1:17 remaining.
By that point, the Bearcats nearly came all the way back. Rock Hill scored the first eight points of the half, cutting the one-time double-digit lead to one, 35-34, after Jatavius Stewart's fast-break bucket.
The Bearcats failed to light up the scoreboard, and Fort Mill hit their free throws to put the game on ice. The Jackets hit their final six free throws that salted the game away.
Rock Hill forced 18 turnovers in the second half and was in the bonus situation by the beginning of the fourth quarter. However, the Bearcats' woes at the line proved costly, as they hit just one of eight shots from the charity stripe in the second half.
Gayland Jenkins led the Bearcats with 12 points, the only Rock Hill scorer in double figures. Dupree and Rion Hariot paced the Yellow Jackets' attack with 15 and 11 points.
"We did some things well tonight," said Rock Hill coach Bobby Stevens, "but just could not find a way to get over the hump. I was pleased with our effort and we did a lot of things well, but we have to cut down on the mental errors in order to be successful."
Fort Mill, which picked up their first win of the young season, can also use the win as a learning experience for their younger players.
"We loss 99 percent of just about everything from last year's team," Fort Mill coach Bailey Jackson said. "Tonight, we grew up a lot and learned how to win. We had played a similar game earlier this year and missed free throws and could not get the win. Hopefully, this will give our kids some valuble experience and confidence as we move forward through the season."
• ROCK HILL 54, FORT MILL 42 -- The Lady Bearcats rallied from an 8-point second half deficit in their win over the visiting Fort Mill Yellow Jackets.
The game provided an individual duel between Fort Mill's Jenna White and Rock Hill's Laquesha Crockett. Crockett trumped an outstanding effort by White, finishing with 22 points, including several key buckets down the stretch.
Trailing by three with 3:21 remaining, Crockett calmly nailed a 3-pointer from the right elbow. The bucket evened the score for the first time since early in the first period.
Crockett's heroics didn't stop there. After a Yellow Jackets turnover, Crockett gave Rock Hill their first lead of the game on a driving layup. She added a couple of free throws and two more baskets off steals to break the game wide open.
The Lady Bearcats scored 15 points in the final three minutes and held Fort Mill without a single point during that span.
The loss dampened the effort for Fort Mill guard White. White scored 13 points in the first quarter and finished with a team-high 20 points. She was the Lady Jackets' only scoring threat, and when White went cold, so did Fort Mill.
White hit four 3-pointers but couldn't knock down the big shot once Fort Mill surrendered the lead.
Crockett received help from Maggie Rogers and Paulette Rivers, who finished with 8 points apiece.
"We'll always look to Crockett for scoring," said Rock Hill coach Eric Rawlins, "but the major difference in this year's team verses last year is we just have more scoring options.
"Our offense is a little ahead of our defense right now, but that is to be expected early in the season. I am pleased with our effort, and I am looking forward to a very successful season."
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