FORT MILL — The sixth ranked Lancaster Bruins girls basketball team pretty much locked up the Region III-AAAA title with a 55-37 win over the 10th ranked Fort Mill Yellow Jackets.
Lancaster’s Phoebe Johnson dominated the paint to lead the Bruins to its 11th Region III-AAAA win with three more games left. Johnson scored 16 points in the win in leading Lancaster. Kyia Hough added 14 for the Bruins.
The Bruins opened the fourth quarter with a 12 point lead and pushed that lead to an 18 point lead in the first two and a half minutes of the period with a 6-0 run.
By then, the Jackets were looking at a gap they wouldn’t be able to close. Fort Mill struggled from the field in the fourth quarter not hitting a field goal until just under three minutes to go.
Fort Mill came out in the second half trying to set up an offense, but struggled as time slipped off the clock.
Lancaster expanded a commanding halftime lead with a 6-2 start to the third quarter.
“We were doing some good things, but defensively we had some break downs in the third quarter,” said Jackets’ head coach Brett Childers. “I am really proud of how they battled back in the second half. We got a tough road ahead.”
Fort Mill’s Madison Hendrix got into foul trouble and collected her third foul shortly after the start of the quarter. She was limited to four points for the Jackets, who was led by Arianna Grevious’ nine points.
Lancaster’s height was too much for the Jackets to content with on the block, as they struggled to stop the Bruins’ taller players.
Fort Mill cut the Lancaster lead to seven with a 5-0 run by Kayla Godwin to make it 33-26. But anytime the Lady Jackets would get close, Lancaster would find a way to start pulling away and went on a 5-0 run of its own.
The Jackets pulled within a basket to start the second quarter with the help of a Meredith Christopher basket and a Godwin free-throw.
Lancaster missed its first three shots and Fort Mill would rally to tie things at 13 on an Ally Abbott short jumper.
The Bruins would bounce right back and scored the next three points to regain the lead, despite struggling on the offensive end.
As the second quarter wore on, Lancaster would shake off any offensive rust going on a 7-0 run to take a 20-13 lead and forcing the Jackets into a time out.
Despite the good start, Fort Mill caught what Lancaster had early and struggled to convert little jumpers. The hit just 2-of-14 shots in the second quarter, most of them within four or five feet of the basket.
Johnson’s play was key in the quarter, as she scored six of the Bruins nine points, exercising her will in the paint for Lancaster.
Fort Mill got early looks, but the Bruins defense in the middle was too tough to get around. Lancaster was also strong on the glass in grabbing would-be offensive rebounds for the Jackets.
Once Fort Mill was able to get around the Lancaster defense, Hendrix was able to find her way to the basket to get an early lead for the Jackets.
Lancaster’s Hough struggled early from the field and the Bruins went inside to Johnson, the UNC-Wilmington commit.
The Bruins gained some control with the help of a Hough 3-pointer, but Fort Mill stayed close. The Jackets struggled however giving up points on the block, as Lancaster would start to pull away.
The Fort Mill Yellow Jackets started the fourth quarter on 11-0 run to help pull away for a 53-40 win.
Up by only two points to start the fourth, Fort Mill soon found themselves ups 45-32.
Fort Mill’s Mike Scurlock hit a big 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter for the Jackets to give them some breathing room and Fort Mill came up with two key turnovers as well to help open the period.
The Jackets hit 26 of 38 foul shots in the game.
“It was an ugly game,” said Fort Mill head coach Dwayne Hartsoe.
“Defensively, they play aggressive, so I thought we could get to the foul line.”