FORT MILL — Three turnovers by the Northwestern Trojans during the final 90 seconds allowed the Nation Ford Falcons to score the game’s final seven points before holding on for a 54-45 win Monday.
Northwestern cut Nation Ford’s lead to eight points at 40-32 to start the fourth quarter as they scored the first two baskets quickly to shift the momentum.
That enabled Northwestern to start the quarter on a 7-1 run and pull within six points.
But after two free throws by Nation Ford’s Riley Hilton and a layup by Justin Sergent, the Falcons extended their lead.
Northwestern used the inside presence of Rontavius McClure to keep within striking distance of the Falcons. His play allowed Northwestern to pull to 47-45 with two minutes left.
From there, Nation Ford again started to pull away. The Falcons scored the next seven points and the Trojans had three crucial turnovers.
“We played physical,” said Nation Ford coach Brian Turner. “We grew up a little bit. That was a game we could have easily got frustrated with. It was a good win for the kids. They played hard and got on the floor after loose balls. It was a gritty tough physical game.”
The Trojans came out pressing in the second half, but Nation Ford was able to beat the press and get to the glass for high-percentage shots. However, shots weren’t falling and neither were free throws when they got to the line.
Neither team started off shooting well. They combined to hit one basket in the first three minutes of the third quarter.
While trying to make something happen, both teams turned the ball over and neither offense was able to get going.
Hilton was able to break a scoring drought by both squads with 3:30 left in the quarter on a three-point play to put the Falcons up 33-22.
That started a 6-0 Nation Ford run before the Trojans’ LaThomas Long scored back-to-back buckets.
However, there wasn’t a run in the Trojans’ future as the Falcons quickly regained momentum with the help of Jordan Causey’s 3-pointer.
Northwestern started to have trouble handling the ball in the second quarter, leading to several turnovers. But Nation Ford caught whatever the Trojans had as each team nearly matched the other turnover-for-turnover early on.
Nation Ford hit 8-of-13 shots in the second quarter to start pulling away as Hank Tuipulotu put them up 12 at 30-18 at the half with his second 3-pointer of the game.
Nation Ford 54, Northwestern 45
Northwestern – Rontavius McClure 11, Manzi Hill 10, LaThomas Long 8, JaReg Feely 5, Mustafia Love 4, Will Chitwood 3, Ahmad Dewese 3, Clenzo Ross 1.
Nation Ford – Riley Hilton 19, Hank Tuipulotu 8, Nick Turner 6, Jordan Causey 5, DeSean McCain 5, Justin Sergent 5, Carson Smith 5, Brandon Cureton 1.
3-pointers: Northwestern 3 (Dewese 1, Chitwood 1, Feely 1), Nation Ford 5 (Turner 2, Tuipulotu 2, Causey 1). Team fouls: Northwestern 19, Nation Ford 16. Fouled out: Manzi Hill (NW)
Records: Northwestern 7-11, 3-4 Region III-AAAA; Nation Ford 8-9, 4-3 Region III-AAAA.