ROCK HILL --
Talk about stirring a Hornets’ nest.
That was exactly the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets did to the Aiken Green Hornets after allowing 34 fourth-quarter points fueled by nine turnovers in the final period as Fort Mill was able to escape with a 71-66 win over the sixth-ranked 4A team in the state.
Fort Mill held a 46-32 lead after three quarters and looked as if it was going to cruise in the opening round of the 2012 Lindberg Moody Holiday Tournament at Northwestern High School (due to early New Year’s Day deadlines, the results of the tournament were not available at press time). However, Aiken came back with a furry, pulling within two at 53-51 at one point in the fourth quarter.
The Hornets were led by senior Shawn Moore’s 27 points, 15 of which came in the final period.
“The goal is to win, but I see there is a lot of room for improvement,” said Fort Mill head coach Dwayne Hartsoe. “We hit some huge free throws in the end. This was a good experience for us.”
In fact, free throws is what separated the two teams in the game as Fort Mill had just nine fouls called against them, while Aiken had 23, including a technical against head coach Tony Herrell, who was whistled while complaining about the officiating.
Fort Mill hit 27-of-36 free-throws in the game, including 19-of-23 in the fourth quarter.
Jackets senior Harrison Lancaster quietly led with a career high 30 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter. He went 10-for-13 from the foul line in the game.
The Jackets did score 25 points in the fourth quarter, but took only seven shots from the field. For the game, Fort Mill shot 51 percent.
On the other hand, Aiken shot 52 percent in the fourth quarter and took 75 shots in the game, but hit just 33 percent overall.
Fort Mill carried a 27-24 lead into the half, but came out in the third quarter and started things off on a 9-2 run to pull away 36-26 with the help of three big three-pointers, two by Lancaster and the other by senior Rylan Wells.
Fort Mill shot 50 percent in the third quarter and played smart basketball by looking for a higher-percentage shot within close range of the basket for the majority of the game.
With the slow start in the third quarter, Aiken struggled, hitting just three shots in the period.
The one thing that kept Aiken in the game was its ball handling as it forced Fort Mill into 19 turnovers with the majority of those coming on steals. Aiken had 13 turnovers, but only six of those game in the second half, while Fort Mill had 10 second half turnovers and struggled at times even inbounding the ball.
Fort Mill junior Devan Thacker added 13 points and senior John Paris added 10 in the winning effort.