Fast start helps propel Lady Rockets over Dawgs

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

All roads headed north and east for basketball fans in Marshall County who came out in huge numbers to dine on their once-a year-treat at the Eagleville Christmas Classic Friday night. The Forrest Lady Rockets and Cornersville Lady Bulldogs faced off, with the northern end of the county going home with bragging rights as Forrest won 44-25.

"This is always a battle. It is more than just a classic," said Forrest Head Coach Robby Reasonover after his squad unwrapped its final present of the holiday season. What they found inside was Beth Hawn, Gaby Bussell and Summer Waggoner in the low post as the trio combined for 23 points and controlled the paint the entire contest.

"This feels great," Hawn said after the game. "I don't know if we are at the top of our game yet. But we are playing as a team, working really hard in practice, and it is paying off."

The two teams poured onto the court with plenty of emotion. Neither squad could find the net until Forrest sharpshooter Shelby Stinnett buried a three-pointer, two minutes into the game. Sara Nelms made a pull-up jumper in the lane for the Lady Dawgs to make it 3-2.

Blair Foster drove the lane and kissed the ball in off the glass and was fouled. Foster missed the free throw, but got the rebound and fed Hawn for a 7-2 lead. Nelms later made a free throw to make it 7-3, but Forrest nailed another long bomb by Ayla Young to stretch the lead to 10-3.

The Lady Rockets would run off seven more points, beginning with a Hawn charity shot for an 11-3 margin, a bucket by Foster for a 13-3 lead, a bruising basket in the paint by Hawn to go up 15-3. Hawn would go to the line for two out of three shots when she was fouled attempting a leaning buzzer beater, making the score 17-3 after one period.

Waggoner began the second quarter with a basket and Bussell hit one of two from the line for a 20-3 FHS lead. Sara Barnett got Cornersville's first bucket in more than five minutes of play to make the score 20-5. Megan Porter nailed a three for her only points of the night and a 23-5 Forrest bulge. The first half ended with the Lady Bulldogs behind the eight ball 25-10.

Gaby Bussell sent an early second-half message that a comeback by Cornersville would be a tough road when she sank a three-pointer on the Lady Rockets first touch for a 28-10 lead. The Forrest defense and a patiently run offense led to a low-scoring quarter and a 20-point 32-12 lead for Forrest.

There was no quit in the Lady Dawgs. They kept on grinding and the fourth quarter was as intense as the first. But the Lady Rockets were just too tough inside and Cornersville could not get anything to fall from three-point land all night. They went zero from deep and lost 44-25.

"Cornersville is a solid team," Reasonover said. "They are well coached and I have a lot of respect for coach (Micah) Landers and the Cornersville program."

Hawn finished with 11 points, Bussell had eight, Young scored seven, Foster netted six, Waggoner had four, Porter and Stinnett each had a lone three-ball, and Dakota Wesson had two markers for the Lady Rockets.

Cornersville was led by Nelms, who had a game-high 14, Tori Wolaver scored five, Barnett scored four, and Sarah King had a lone bucket.