Fort Mill held Clover to just seven fourth-quarter points to ice a hard-fought 64-52 victory in Region 3-5A play Tuesday night at home.
The Jackets’ AJ Washington led all scorers with 19 points in a balanced performance, while Logan Parker tallied 15 points and Nas Berry pitched in 14 for the Yellow Jackets which improved to 15-10 and 5-4 in the region.
“The team did a great job at guarding,” said Fort Mill boys head coach Myron Lowery. “Playing defense without fouling, contesting threes, which (Clover is) very good at. Up one going into the fourth, if we were able to pull away, it’s because we were able to do it defensively.”
The win, combined with crosstown rival Nation Ford’s loss at Spring Valley Tuesday night, means Fort Mill is now tied with the Falcons for second place in the region with Nation Ford. As of Tuesday night, Nation Ford is 12-12 and 5-4 in region. The two Fort Mill teams will play their final regular season game at Nation Ford on Friday, Feb. 9 for the right to earn the No. 2 seed in the upcoming 5A state tournament.
“They’re a tough matchup for us,” Lowery said. “We’ve got our work cut out against them.”
In the game against the Blur Eagles, Clover hit four 3-pointers in the opening quarter to kick off a hard-fought matchup.
The first two, back-to-back shots to open the game, helped the Blue Eagles take a 10-4 lead with four minutes gone.
But Fort Mill established a strong presence in the paint and took advantage of close-range shots during a 10-3 run in the middle of the quarter to erase the early lead and ensure neither team had an edge heading into the second quarter.
Fort Mill’s Parker and Washington hit 3-pointers to start the second quarter, while Jaylon Hoover and Hunter Decuir saw plenty of fortune from mid-range jumpers to keep Clover in contention. The Blue Eagles hit three shots in a row in the middle of the second quarter to help push Clover to a narrow 29-28 halftime lead.
Clover’s Decuir and Fort Mill’s Parker traded treys in the opening two minutes of the third quarter. Fort Mill ripped off a 9-0 run in the space of two minutes to take a five-point lead, thanks to a trey by Parker and two timely layups by Christian McCain.
But Clover’s Hoover and Jayden Garcia answered with back-to-back 3-pointers two minutes later to tie the game.
Fort Mill led 46-45 heading into the final frame of action. That’s when the Yellow Jackets took advantage. Fort Mill held Clover without a point in the opening four minutes of the final quarter, while taking a six-point lead. The highlight of the night was a Berry layup, executed with a spin move that got the crowd excited.
Hoover hit a layup and Palumbo nailed a trey to cut the lead back to 56-51 with 2:05 left. But Fort Mill hit its free throws at the right times down the stretch and Clover was unable to convert any of their final attempts from beyond the arc.
Lowery said his team relies on detailed scouting reports about their opponents.
“We live by that scouting report,” he said. “They did a good job of understanding it, guarding, playing solid defense.”
Lady Jackets slip in fourth quarter
The Lady Blue Eagles outscored the Lady Yellow Jackets 16-4 in the fourth quarter to earn an important Region 3-5A win Tuesday night in Fort Mill by a score of 48-31.
Clover hit six fourth-quarter buckets, including four in a pivotal 10-2 run to start the fourth, to help solidify their hunt for a postseason spot.
With the win, Clover is now 16-8 and 5-4 in region play, while Fort Mill falls to 16-9 and 2-7. Fort Mill has lost its last four games. The Jackets’ Jada Chambliss led all scorers with 13 points, while her Yellow Jackets teammate Zoe Williams notched five points.
The two teams got out to a slow first quarter. Clover managed just two field goals, while Fort Mill was held without a bucket for the first 7:30 of the game. Chambliss hit a 3-pointer from the elbow to cut the Blue Eagles’ lead to 5-4 with 30 seconds left in the quarter.
Junior shooting guard Clare Moore swished a second trey to give Fort Mill its first lead of the night midway through the second.
Layups by Rileigh Franklin and Karis Alexander pushed Clover back into the lead a few minutes later, but Chambliss earned two layups in the final two minutes as Fort Mill gritted out a narrow one-point margin heading into halftime at 16-15.
Clover outscored its hosts 17-11 in the third quarter to take an edge heading into the final stage. The Blue Eagles used an 8-0 run, including a Clara Powell trey, to take a six-point lead with 3:15 left in the quarter. But Fort Mill used an 8-2 run of its own, capped off by an Izzie Barber 3-pointer, to tie the game back up at 27-27 just 90 seconds later.
Still, Clover knocked down two free throws and a long trey by Marcia Watt to pull away and lead by five heading into the fourth quarter.
Four different Blue Eagles hit field goals in the fourth quarter as the visitors extended their lead to double-digits. Both teams emptied their benches with less than 90 seconds to play.
Fort Mill finishes the regular season with a road trip to crosstown rival Nation Ford 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9.