Forrest broke their eight-game losing streak Monday night in Chapel Hill as they outlasted district rival Cascade 63-54 in front of a packed house. The Rockets and the Champions from Wartrace battled tooth and nail for much of the game until the Rockets' defense came out on top in the fourth quarter, holding Cascade to just six points in the final period to claim the much-needed victory.
After the contest an elated Forrest head coach Davy McClaran said, "I don't think our effort was any different in the win tonight than it was in our losses. We just found the basket tonight. Even when we lost those games by four points and two points our effort was there. We took a step in the direction we want to go tonight."
Team leader and senior stand-out Nick Schnapp, who scored 19 points in the game, was also very satisfied with the victory. "This feels good," Schnapp said. "This is a great win for us, a big momentum shifter. We started strong and did not give up; we have a lot of heart on this team."
Forrest came out with plenty of emotion right off the tip as Parker Holton took a pass in the low post and went up strong for the opening score. Cascade had emotion, too, as Corey Phillips answered with three-bomb to put the Champions up by one. Holton came back with another basket in the paint to make it 4-3.
Kendall Knight kissed a soft jumper off the glass to make it 6-3. Schnapp hit a jump shot for an 8-3 lead, and after a single free throw by Josh Brandon put the score at 8-4, Knight pulled up in the paint for another basket to make it a 10-4 Rocket lead.
Cascade scored six straight to tie the game at 10 and Schnapp put the Rockets up again at 12-10 with a jumper in the lane. Ryan Morton tied the game back up at 12 and then Cascade scored six more to take an 18-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Forrest was filled with energy from the screaming fans and went on an 11-0 run to begin the second quarter as Devin O'Brien opened the barrage with a strong put-back in the paint. Kyle Anglin found Seth Brothers twice on pretty passes for four points and Schnapp drove hard to basket for a three-point play on one possession and hit two free throws on another.
Cascade fought back and made the score 25-24, but the Rockets held their ground and took a 31-27 lead into the halftime break.
The Champions came out of the break and outscored the Rockets 21-16 in the third quarter to take a one point 48-47 lead into the fourth.
Buck Bennett, coming off an injury played a huge role to begin the last quarter as he cleaned the glass for two big rebounds for the Rockets. On the second rebound, the Rockets ran the outlet to Anglin, who drained a long three-bomb from the top of the key to give the Rockets a 50-48 lead.
An intentional foul by Cascade fired up the Rockets, who stiffened up the defense and forced the Champions into multiple turnovers and a bevy of bad shots. Forrest made the most of their opportunities and the frustration mounted for Cascade, as they seemed to lose their poise for the rest of game.
The Rockets would not give in and took control of the ball and the game as they hit some big foul shots down the stretch and took the game by nine points.
Asked about the defensive effort in the fourth quarter by his squad, McClaran responded, "That is what we have been known for. We had great intensity and there is no love lost between these two schools. This is a big rivalry, whether it is basketball, football, baseball, whatever. It is always intense."
The Rockets had a balanced scoring attack that was led by Schnapp's 19 points, Knight had 10, Anglin 7, Bennett, Brothers, and Preston Pratt scored six, Holton and O'Brien each had four, and Colin Henson had one point.
The Rockets host Community tonight in another big district game at 6 p.m.