The Lady Rockets' ice cold third period was too much to overcome
The players on both the FMS Lady Rockets and the MCMS Raiderettes have met four times this year and are continuing a great traditional rivalry between two schools that are having great seasons at both the middle school and high school level. "You are going to end up playing them every year," MCMS Head Coach Brooke Blackburn told her team after the game.
The Lady Rockets fell behind 6-0 early, then 13-4 in the first half before righting the ship and scoring the last six points of the quarter on a basket by Maegan Gower, Christina Curtner's rebound and put-back, and a late jumper by Kayrin Warren to come within three points at the half, 13-10.
The third six minutes would be the difference in the contest as the Raiderettes turned up the pressure at both ends of the court and left Forrest with a huge mountain to climb in the final stanza. FMS did not shoot the ball well in the quarter and Moore County started to hit from long range on two back to back three-pointers from Cassie Kight that built the lead to twelve. "They started to hit their 3's and we went man, went small, and then there big girl was open," Jones said. Moore County's lead was 26-11 at the end of the quarter.
The Lady Rockets were not going to go down without a fight and they started to gain some momentum about a third of the way thru the last period. They got to the free-throw line and did convert a few times, but managed to stay in the game with some ball pressure of their own and when C. Curtner sank a three-bomb and then stole the ball and laid it in on the next possession, the girls from Chapel Hill were right back in the game at 26-20 with 1:33 left in the contest. Five consecutive points by Raiderette Amber Howell left the Lady Rockets no choice but to foul and Moore County made good from the line to seal the game and win the Championship, 31-21.
Garrison comes prepared, FMS boys win by 10
FMS Head Coach Todd Garrison knew what defense his team was going to come up against versus Lewis County and his preparation in practice paid off on the court as the Rockets broke free time after time and took the action to the Panthers. "We prepared the entire practice yesterday for the 1-2-1-1 press and it was the difference in the game," Garrison said after the game.
Incredibly, the game started with four consecutive turnovers before the two teams found their legs and began to settle down. The action was back and forth for most of the first quarter before FMS broke through on a pretty alley-oop play from Tanner Wesson to Dane Leonard that tied the game at 8 apiece and then Kyle Gugger scored to make it 10-8 FMS at the end of the quarter.
Lewis County continued to pressure the ball and the Rockets used their practice strategy to perfection as they broke away and had open lanes to the basket. FMS built a nine point lead on a Leonard rebound and follow in open space, but the Panthers managed a late bucket and two free throws after the buzzer to cut the lead to six by halftime, 21-15.
The Panthers made their run in the third quarter as they began to find some open space and the shots began to fall for them. The Rockets were outscored 14-6 in the quarter and trailed going into the final stanza, 29-27.
With the game tied at 32-32 in the final quarter, the Rockets surged to take control of the game when Leonard had another put-back, Corey Bishop laid in a pass from Kyle Gugger, and then Zack Ray scored on a beautiful dish from Bishop to push the Rockets up six and send the Panthers scrambling.
The play that broke the Panther's back came with 1:32 left and Lewis County trailing by six when Forrest executed the press break to perfection as Taylor Gentry found a streaking Leonard who was fouled and he subsequently sank both foul shots to put the game away. FMS took the consolation prize of third place as they ran and hid for a 45-35 victory.
"It felt real good, it was fun, and we had a great time," Tanner Wesson said after the game. Garrison had his troops ready and Wesson solidified that fact when he mentioned, "We practiced that press break every day in practice and it worked tonight." Leonard led the Rockets in scoring with 12 points, Ray had 10, Gugger 7, and Bishop and Leland Brothers netted 4 apiece.