The defending State Champion Class A Forrest Lady Rockets moved one step closer in their title defense with a 53-45 victory Monday night versus a tough and determined MTCS Lady Cougar squad in the Championship game of the District 9-A Tournament at Cascade. The Lady Rockets will host the Houston County Lady Fighting Irish (17-11) on Friday night in a regional satellite game.
Both teams brought large traveling crowds to the game at Cascade and they were loud and proud from the outset. The squads were also very determined to start the game and the intensity was high as they played a very sharp first quarter that saw Forrest push ahead late behind great shooting and defense by Blair Foster and Ayla Young to give the Chapel Hill women a 17-12 lead at the end of the stanza.
The second quarter was a battle of determination as MTCS would not let the Lady Rockets run and hide. Forrest built a six point lead on a Kalah Mathis basket, but the Lady Cougars cut it to three at 22-19 midway through the period.
Regular season District 9-A Player of the Year, Gaby Bussell gave the Lady Rockets the push they needed in the stanza with some solid post play and FHS went into the locker room leading by five, 26-21. Bussell and District 9-A Tournament MVP Ayla Young each had seven points in the first half.
The Lady Rockets came out smoking the cords after the break and built a 16 point lead at one point 39-23, only to let it slip away as MTCS scored twelve of the next fifteen points to cut the lead to seven at 42-35 by quarter's end. Blair Foster continued with the hot hand in the period as she scored 5 points and Bussell scored four.
The fourth quarter was gut check time for the Lady Rockets and they answered every Lady Cougar attack with the poise and precision championship teams are supposed to display. Bussell and Summer Waggoner controlled the post for FHS as the duo combined for eight points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, and a block in the deciding stanza. The Lady Rockets finished off the Lady Cougars from the foul stripe as Foster and Dakota Wesson hit some key charity shots in the closing minutes.
"MTCS came to play, we would have liked to execute better, but they came at us hard", Lady Rocket head coach Robby Reasonover (District 9-A Coach of the Year) said after the game. "I am very happy for the girls," Reasonover added. Asked about the home game his team earned by appearing in the district championship tilt, Reasonover said, "It will be nice, but at this time of year, it is lose and go home."
Bussell finished with 15 points, Foster and Waggoner each had a dozen, Young scored 7, and Wesson and Beth Hawn each had 2 points.