With second place in Region 3-5A and a home playoff game at stake, the Fort Mill-Nation Ford boys basketball game lived up to expectations.
The Falcons got the season sweep of Fort Mill with a 58-48 win to finish second in the region. Fort Mill will finish third and will have a road game to open the playoffs next week.
“We were playing for more than the game itself,” said Nation Ford head boys coach Charles Brown. “We played for each other.”
Nation Ford came out firing with Jackson Burnham hitting two long range 3-pointers early in the game.
Fort Mill was able to keep up with them as the Falcons struggled with their ball handling leading to turnovers. The Falcons were able to get to the foul line more in the first quarter giving them some extra breathing room.
Nation Ford led by three to start the second quarter. The Falcons stayed a step ahead because of Burnham, which Fort Mill didn’t have much of an answer for.
The Falcons’ big man Caden Giles started to get more involved in the offense for Nation Ford which only led to them extending their lead. The Falcons led 24-19 at the half as they hit 6-of-9 shots in the second quarter.
Nation Ford came out in the third quarter and didn’t take their foot off the gas as Burnham continued draining 3-pointers.
Fort Mill stayed close with the help of their foul shooting as they continued to attack the basket. Nas Berry came alive for Fort Mill in the third quarter and pulled the Jackets to within two of the Falcons.
After matching each other point for point in the third quarter, Nation Ford took a 41-36 lead to the final eight minutes of regulation.
The Falcons tried to slow things down to open the fourth quarter. Foul shots again kept Fort Mill lurking within three points most of the quarter. AJ Washington and Berry powered the Jackets offense in the final quarter, while Giles was key for the Falcons.
Burnham hit a key shot in the lane with 47 seconds left in the game setting up an old fashion three-point play to give Nation Ford a six-point lead.
Burnham was able to seal the game for the Falcons down the stretch capping it off with a thunderous dunk with about 15 seconds left. He finished with 27 points to lead all scorers and Giles dropped in 13 points.
Washington had 15 points to lead the Jackets and Berry followed with 14 points.
“We didn’t make plays,” said Fort Mill head boys coach Myron Lowery. “Bottom line. They made more plays than us.”
Nation Ford finishes the regular season at 13-12 overall and 6-4 in the region. They will most likely host Spartanburg in the first round of the playoffs Wednesday.
Fort Mill finished the regular season at 15-11 and 5-5 in the region. They will open the playoffs on the road next Wednesday.
Fort Mill pulls away in second half
A big second half was what the Fort Mill Lady Jackets needed to beat rival Nation Ford Falcons 47-23.
With the Lady Jackets already securing a playoff spot, the girls game was more for pride and bragging rights than anything else.
Both teams came in on losing streaks, four for the Jackets and nine for Nation Ford.
The game started with both teams turning the ball over often. Fort Mill had trouble setting up an offense. The Jackets didn’t get many shots off and scored by foul shots mostly hitting just one field goal in the quarter. Nation Ford wasn’t much more productive scoring on three field goals in the quarter.
The game was tied at eight to open the second quarter and went back and forth to start. Fort Mill shot poorly in the early portion of the quarter despite multiple shot attempts on several possessions. Nation Ford took a 14-11 lead off two Ariah Heard foul shots.
Both teams were not able to get any consistency in their offense as the Falcons went into the half leading 15-13.
The game slowed down to start the second half. Fort Mill opened the third quarter on a 5-0 run to gain the lead at 18-15 before a timeout. The timeout didn’t slow the Jackets as they continued on a 12-0 run. Nation Ford missed their first seven shots in the second half.
Fort Mill was able to find another gear in the quarter as they got to the basket and got more open looks.
The Jackets also cut down on turnovers helping their cause as they led 30-17 heading into the final period.
The Jackets opened the fourth quarter with a Reagan Reyes 3-pointer. Fort Mill maintained control in the quarter and continued to extend their lead and go up by 20 with about 2:45 left in the game. Clare Moore led Fort Mill in scoring 10 points as the Jackets outscored Nation Ford 34-8 in the second half.
Heard led the Falcons with seven points as they dropped to 10-15 overall and 0-10 to finish region play.
Fort Mill finished the regular season at 17-9 and 3-7 in the region. Fort Mill will open the 5A playoffs on the road Feb. 13 at Mauldin.
Nation Ford can still get an at-large bid for a playoff spot.
Mac Banks: email@example.com, @fortprep