Clover-Fort Mill clash for big region games, plus all Rock Hill-area scores this week

·5 min read

Clover boys’ basketball coach Bailey Jackson turned to his assistant on the bench and helplessly shrugged his shoulders.

And who could blame him?

It was the second quarter of Wednesday night’s big region game on the road, and Fort Mill’s Kyle Neibch had just knocked down a beautiful pull-up three — his second of the young game.

“He’s a pretty good shooter,” Fort Mill head coach Dwayne Hartsoe told reporters postgame, his understatement emphasized by a tongue-in-cheek smile. He added, “Teams have really started to defend him a little bit differently. He’s been working really hard to try to get open. They face guard him. And he’s a tough kid. They’re physical with him. ...

“He gets aggravated at times and starts to force some things. But he’s a good enough player that he can force some things when we need him to.”

Fort Mill’s Darryl Carrington heads to the basket alongside Clover’s Jaylon Hoover.
Fort Mill’s Darryl Carrington heads to the basket alongside Clover’s Jaylon Hoover.

The Yellow Jacket boys earned a big win over Clover in front of an electric home crowd on Wednesday night, 52-41, and now are in the proverbial driver’s seat in Region 3-5A. They did so by playing a disciplined 2-3 zone to mitigate Clover’s size advantage — Clover 6-foot-10 big and Winthrop commit Lawrence Bartee was limited to only eight points in the contest — and by being poised enough to not let an 18-point lead in the third quarter slip away despite a mighty Clover run. (They also shot really well: Fort Mill hit seven 3-pointers in this game, doing so via the flow of its catch-and-shoot offense and also off the dribble.)

This one, by many indications, was an indication of what this Fort Mill team is at its best. And that’s saying a lot: The Yellow Jackets (14-4, 2-0 Region 3-5A) have only lost once to 5A Riverside and three times to Catawba Ridge — among the best teams in South Carolina 4A basketball this year.

Clover’s Allen Roberts looks for an opening against Fort Mill’s Wade Blythe.
Clover’s Allen Roberts looks for an opening against Fort Mill’s Wade Blythe.

“We’re a very gritty team,” Hartsoe said. “We have some guys who can play, and they play well together. They enjoy being together. They’re just a fun team to have, really.”

Fort Mill was led by Neibch, who finished with 15 points (three 3s), and Darryl Carrington, who finished with 14 (two 3s). The Yellow Jackets also saw contributions by Gabe Tooper (nine points), Will Stumph (six), Zach Jennings (five) and Wade Blythe (four).

Clover fell to 13-7 (2-1) on Wednesday night and saw contributions from six scorers: Dylan Rupert finished with 14; Vincent Alexander and Bartee finished with eight apiece; Jaylon Hoover finished with seven; and Jackson McMullen and Darius Bowser each had two.

Clover’s Nysheria Wright heads to the basket ahead of Fort Mill’s Lindsay Paukovitz.
Clover’s Nysheria Wright heads to the basket ahead of Fort Mill’s Lindsay Paukovitz.

Like their counterparts, the Clover girls fought back from a second-half deficit.

But thanks to some timely defense and great free-throw shooting, these Blue Eagles found a way to win.

The game came down to Clover’s final two offensive possessions: After weathering a 9-0 Fort Mill fourth-quarter run that put the Yellow Jackets up two (37-35) with under a minute remaining in the game, Clover’s left-handed point guard Tykeria Witherspoon drove left baseline and laced a perfect pass to Nysheria Wright under the basket for a game-tying layup. Bucket. Game knotted at 37 with 40 seconds left.

Clover’s Tykeria Witherspoon passes the ball around Fort Mill’s Reagan Reyes.
Clover’s Tykeria Witherspoon passes the ball around Fort Mill’s Reagan Reyes.

After a Clover stop on the ensuing possession, the Blue Eagles had a chance to win it. They fed freshman Samara Lucas, who was then fouled and sunk both free throws. 39-37.

And then Clover got a game-sealing steal and sunk two game-sealing free throws. The person who notched the steal and free throws? Lucas again.

Final: 41-37, Clover won.

“Very proud of her,” head coach Sherer Hopkins told The Herald postgame, referencing her steely first-year player. Lucas was a big part of the comeback for Clover, a team down by five at halftime. “She stepped up tonight and hit some big shots. And we’ve seen that come out throughout the year, we’ve just been kind of waiting for it to (shine). And she did.”

The Blue Eagles (12-5, 3-0 Region 3-5A), a group that graduated their state-championship-winning starting five from last year, are continuing to ascend to the season’s biggest moments thanks to great inside play (dominating the glass) and balanced offense: They saw contributions Wednesday night from seven different scorers; leading the group was Tegan Bertwell with 12 and Wright with 11.

Fort Mill’s Claire Moore heads to the basket.
Fort Mill’s Claire Moore heads to the basket.

The Fort Mill girls, of course, held their own: The Yellow Jackets (6-13, 0-2 Region 3-5A) finished with eight 3-pointers — three from Reagan Reyes (who finished with nine points) and two from West Point commit Nadia Dial (who finished with 10).

“Fort Mill is always a tough place to play,” Hopkins said. “They bring a good crowd. We knew it was going to be a battle.”

Here’s a look at other scores throughout the Rock Hill-area this week.

Fort Mill’s Darryl Carrington heads to the basket alongside Clover’s Jaylon Hoover.
Fort Mill’s Darryl Carrington heads to the basket alongside Clover’s Jaylon Hoover.

Other boys scores from Rock Hill-area

Monday

York Prep 45, Irmo 43

Wednesday

Northwestern 54, Spring Valley 51

Blythewood 81, Rock Hill 79 (Double OT)

Keenan 54, Chester 36

McBee 55, Lewisville 48

Other girls scores from Rock Hill-area

Wednesday

Northwestern 53, Spring Valley 51

Rock Hill 72, Blythewood 14

McBee 45, Lewisville 12

This list of scores will be updated after the Thursday and Friday games.

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