Hot second half shooting and a rambunctious crowd helped to push the Fort Mill boys’ basketball team to the third round of the 5A playoffs with a 75-68 win over the Byrnes Rebels.
Fort Mill rallied from down 38-33 at the half to outscore Byrnes 22-11 in the third quarter and take a six-point lead to the fourth quarter before again dropping in 20 more points in the final period. Fort Mill improves to 21-5 on the season with the win.
“We had gotten in foul trouble in the first half,” said Fort Mill head coach Dwayne Hartsoe. “In the second half, we stayed out of trouble and were able to do more.”
The Jackets were led by Kyle Neibch who scored 25 points and came out of the locker room and proceeded to drill three 3-pointers to help Fort Mill tie the game and surge ahead in the third quarter. Gabe Tooper who was held without a shot in the second quarter scored five points in the third quarter and then paced the Jackets in the fourth quarter. Fort Mill was big in transition and on the glass in the third quarter as they pulled ahead of Byrnes.
Early turnovers in the fourth quarter kept Byrnes in the game, but Fort Mill was able to work out of their issues to keep the Rebels at bay. Tooper scored nine of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and Will Stumpf came up big for Fort Mill as well in the game scoring 12 points, 10 of those in the second half.
In the fourth quarter, Fort Mill was able to take advantage of the Byrnes foul trouble and get to the line where they hit seven of nine free-throws and also hit six of eight shots from the field in the period.
One thing that has helped Fort Mill over the last several games has been the large crowds and a rowdy student section. It hasn’t gone unnoticed by Hartsoe.
“The last three games the student section and the crowd has made a difference,” he said. “Byrnes is a really good team and the crowd made a difference.”
The crowd was probably at its loudest as with about 1:23 left in the game Tooper threw down a violent dunk pushing the score to 70-63 at that point.
That rowdy crowd will be needed again Monday night as Fort Mill again will host this time in the third round Ridge View at 7 p.m. Ridge View comes in ranked fifth in the state in 5A with Fort Mill ranked 10th. Ridge View won handily over Riverside 75-53 in the second round.
“They are a tough challenge,” Hartsoe said. “We are excited about that opportunity.”
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @fortprep