By Jack Veltri
After suffering home losses to crosstown rival Fort Mill earlier in the week, Nation Ford basketball came away with a split against Clover Friday night.
The girls picked up their second Region 3-5A win 46-41, while the boys suffered another tough loss 70-67.
Camille Kerridge hustled back down the floor after hitting a go-ahead layup late in the second quarter. As she turned around to get ready to play defense, the ball came her way.
The Falcons’ sophomore guard forced a Clover turnover and made a long pass to Aubrey Barney, who hit a layup as the buzzer sounded.
It was the spark that the Nation Ford girls team needed to wake up. The Falcons played the rest of the way to earn the win over the Blue Eagles.
Nation Ford snapped a three-game losing skid with the win. They move to 11-10 overall and 2-4 in the region.
“That was the first game we put together all the way through,” said Nation Ford head coach Kelly Bennett. “And now that they’re believing in each other, that makes a huge difference.”
The Falcons’ play started to pick up after Barney’s buzzer beater. They went on a 12-0 run between the end of the first half and start of the third quarter to create some breathing room. Combined with a handful of turnovers, Clover was held to just six points in the period.
Just when it seemed Nation Ford was destined to win, the Blue Eagles started to make things interesting. They scored 20 points in the final quarter, cutting the deficit to as low as three.
“Clover’s a juggernaut — always will be,” Bennett said. “They are talented and well-coached.”
But when the Falcons needed a late stop from their defense, they got the job done. Clover was eventually forced to start fouling, allowing Nation Ford to put the game on ice.
Kerridge and Kayla Wilmore led the team with 14 points apiece.
While happy with the victory, Bennett’s message will be to “continue to pay attention to the little details.”
“If you don’t pay attention to the little details in this region, you will be beaten by whomever because you will have an idea,” he said. “You have to pay attention to every little detail so you can grow and continue to get better.”
Boys suffer heartbreaking loss at the final buzzer
Nation Ford walked off the floor shocked by the end result. It had fought its way back to make it a competitive game but came up just short.
With time winding down, Clover guard Karis Murphy drove down the floor and heaved up a prayer. It would be answered as the ball rolled through the net as time expired, handing the Falcons a 70-67 loss.
It’s been a tough stretch for Nation Ford, losers of its last three games. The Friday loss puts them at 8-14 overall and 1-5 in the region.
The Falcons played from behind most of the night, only holding the lead for a few moments.
While Shelden Joseph, who scored 12 first half points, was held scoreless in the second half, JJ Rembert was forced to step up. And he did in a big way.
Rembert tallied 17 points in the second half, carrying the team on his back. He finished the game with 21 points.
After Rembert knocked down a three to tie the game at 67, Nation Ford was given a chance to win. Clover had just been called for an offensive foul with under 10 seconds remaining. But on the ensuing in-bound play, the Falcons were called for a backcourt, leading to Murphy’s game-winning shot on the other side.
Nation Ford will begin a two-game road trip, starting with Blythewood next Tuesday, Jan. 31. It will be the second and final matchups between both sides.