CLOVER — There was a lot of interest in the Clover-Fort Mill matchup Friday night, and it didn’t have to do with just the players.
Former Fort Mill coach Bailey Jackson coached against the school he took to a state title in the 2006-07 season for the first time since becoming coach at Clover this year. Before the game, Jackson was recognized for recently winning his 200th career game, with most of those coming while he was at Fort Mill.
However, once the game started, it was all about the players on the hardwood.
Foul shots down the stretch gave Fort Mill the 66-58 win as it held on in the fourth quarter. The Jackets were led by senior Harrison Lancaster, who scored 28, as the team went 27-for-34 from the free-throw line, including 19-of-23 in the fourth quarter. Senior Rylan Wells went 12-for 14 in the game. Most of those came in the final quarter. He added 16 for the Jackets.
“They made a game of it by getting to the foul line,” said Fort Mill coach Dwayne Hartsoe. “We did make some big free throws down the stretch. It was a good win, but we still got a lot to work on.”
Holding a 16-point lead to start the fourth, Fort Mill played as if it was behind as the Blue Eagles quickly cut the Jackets lead to 11 by starting on a 6-1 run to make it 46-35.
The Jackets struggled with ball handling early, turning it over three times early in the quarter.
Jackson was vintage, keeping fresh legs on the court by subbing in five at a time. Jackson said that he didn’t prepare any different for the game just because he was playing Fort Mill.
“We played with no intensity in the second and third quarter,” he said. “And that is my fault. But I was proud of their effort. They turned a blowout into a close game.”
Fort Mill tried to run down the clock as much as it could to keep a 10-point lead, but turnovers kept it off balanced for part of the fourth quarter. Clover’s Taylor Hoover drained a 3-pointer with 2:30 left to cut the Jackets’ lead to 50-42.
Clover kept shooting 3-pointers to cut the Jackets lead even more, but had to start fouling to get the ball back. The Blue Eagles’ Bryce Allen cut the game to six points at 58-52 with 37 seconds left on a Clover 3-pointer.
However, it was the Fort Mill foul shooting that closed the door down the stretch.
Fort Mill opened the third quarter as it did the second on a run. The Jackets started on an 8-1 run and went up 35-16 to open the second half. Clover switched to a full-court press to try and slow things down. The action worked as Fort Mill turned the ball over, but then the Jackets started to kill the clock by moving the ball around.
Fort Mill shifted into another gear midway through the third quarter as it started forcing Clover turnovers, and quickly went up 41-20.
Fort Mill did struggle in the third by getting in foul trouble, which put Clover into the bonus with three minutes left in the third. That helped the Blue Eagles to a 6-0 run.
The Jackets opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run and took the score from tied at 11 after the first to 20-11 as Fort Mill’s defense kept Clover off balance to start.
Fort Mill on the other end attacked the baseline and went to the hole to get the easy baskets. Fort Mill also did a better job of rebounding in the second quarter to slow down the Blue Eagles attack.
Clover went 2-for-8 from the field in the second quarter and never went to the line.
On the other side, Fort Mill shot just under 50 percent for the quarter and went to the line six times.
Both teams started out pretty evenly matched up. Both had trouble shooting and Clover had four early turnovers that Fort Mill was unable to take advantage of.
Clover got several second-chance opportunities and outrebounded Fort Mill. Clover went for the high-percentage shots and converted them.
The Jackets stayed with Clover due to the 3-pointer, which they hit 2-of-7 for in the opening quarter.
Turnovers doom Lady Jackets
Clover opened the fourth quarter with a comfortable 13 point lead and never looked back beating the Fort Mill Lady Jackets 52-31.
Fort Mill had 25 turnovers in the game and Clover was led by Alexis Brice, who scored 15. The Lady Blue Eagles finished the game on a 29-10 run after leading by just two at 23-21 at one point.
Clover dominated the final quarter as the Blue Eagles opened on an 8-2 run, pushing Fort Mill into turnovers by playing aggressive on defense and taking advantage of the Lady Jackets’ miscues.
The Lady Jackets opened the second half on a 9-5 run to make a game of it. Fort Mill cut down on the turnovers, which plagued the Lady Jackets in the second quarter, and returned to early game form.
Fort Mill still allowed second chance opportunities for Clover, which it graciously took advantage of.
In the third quarter, the Lady Jackets were led by Ally Abbott, who dropped in six points, but it was the shooting of Elizabeth Edmunds and Alexis Brice the kept Clover out front.
Brice’s three-pointer put the Lady Blue Eagles up 32-25. On the Lady Jackets’ next possession, Brice was able to steal the ball and make an easy lay-up to extend Clover’s lead.
Fort Mill dominated the opening quarter despite taking a slim 11-8 lead. The Lady Jackets were able to get easy looks and went up 7-3. Both teams paced themselves early.
Brice gave the Lady Blue Eagles the lead by starting the second quarter scoring the first four points.
Fort Mill started the second with four straight turnovers and Clover tied the game at 13 with an Edmunds free-throw and then took the lead on Aaliyah Knox jumper.
Clover went to a full-court press and the Lady Jackets struggled making shots despite being able to break the press.
Fort Mill had nine turnovers in the second quarter as Clover took a commanding 21-14 lead into the half after outscoring the Lady Jackets 13-3. Both teams struggled shooting the ball, but Clover was able to convert three-of-four foul shots and hit five field goals, compared to the Lady Jackets going just one-for-eight from the field.