FORT MILL --
In a game of runs, it was Nation Ford’s free-throw shooting in the end that helped it move past rival Fort Mill 50-40 on Friday in Fort Mill.
Nation Ford went 9 for 10 from the line in the fourth quarter and went 14 for 16 in the game.
Down by two to start the fourth quarter, Fort Mill’s Rylan Wells’ bucket put the Jackets back on top, but Nation Ford’s Carson Smith 3-pointer gave the Falcons the lead at 39-37 all within a matter of seconds.
Smith led the Falcons with 20 points.
Nation Ford used free throws to try and push its lead out, but Fort Mill stayed within striking distance for most of the fourth.
The Jackets had to foul to get the possessions they needed to try to regain the lead, and Nation Ford took advantage of the free-throw opportunities.
“Our man-to-man in the fourth quarter slowed things down,” said Nation Ford coach Brian Turner.
“We needed that.”
As much as the second quarter was Fort Mill’s, the third quarter belonged to the Falcons.
Each squad came out trading baskets, which allowed Nation Ford to close the gap.
Nation Ford shot the ball better in the third quarter as they took the ball to the glass in attempts to get to the free-throw line.
The attempts worked as the Falcons’ Riley Hilton got to the line to cut the Fort Mill lead.
Hilton then tied the game at 30 on the next trip down the court with about three minutes left.
Both offenses slowed down considerably as they looked for good shots.
After a DeSean McCain free throw put the Falcons up, Nation Ford’s Jordan Causey drained a 3-pointer for a 34-30 Falcons lead.
For the Jackets, it was a tale of two halves.
Fort Mill shot just two free-throws in the second half.
“Things were a little different from the first half to the second half,” said Fort Mill coach Dwayne Hartsoe.
“We couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”
Fort Mill started the second quarter on a 10-0 run and took a 21-17 lead before Nation Ford called a timeout to try to regroup.
Nation Ford struggled as Fort Mill’s defense limited it to just three shots in the first four minutes.
The Falcons’ Hilton broke the scoring drought with a basket with 2:32 left in the quarter.
Nation Ford got into foul trouble and sent Fort Mill to the line several times in the quarter as they converted on five of seven attempts.
The Falcons also had eight turnovers in the second quarter and made just 1 of 7 from the floor and didn’t attempt a free throw.
Both teams started well as Fort Mill shot 5 of 9 in the opening quarter and Nation Ford shot 6 of 10.
Nation Ford came out shooting from down town and quickly went up 8-2 on 3-pointers by Nick Turner and McCain
However, Fort Mill didn’t waste any time catching up as it looked for easy baskets and played smart basketball, not taking any low percentage shots.
But it was the play of the Falcons’ Smith that led Nation Ford in the quarter as he scored nine of the teams 17 points.
Nation Ford 50, Fort Mill 40
Nation Ford – Carson Smith 20, Riley Hilton 11, Jordan Causey 7, DeSean McCain 7, Nick Turner 5.
Fort Mill – Matt Ferguson 11, Devan Thacker 9, Mike Scurlock 7, John Paris 6, Preston Jordan 5, Rylan Wells 2.
3-pointers: Nation Ford 6 (Smith 4, Turner 1, Causey 1), Fort Mill 4 (Scurlock 1, Ferguson 1, Jordan 1, Thacker 1).
Team fouls: Nation Ford 17, Fort Mill 16.
Records: Nation Ford 7-9, 2-3 Region III-AAAA; Fort Mill 8-8, 3-3 Region III-AAAA.