Hopes were up, especially inside of District 9A where the Lady Rockets have dominated play over the past four years. One by one those hopes have faded.
Forrest has reeled off twelve consecutive wins since their opening night loss to Clarkrange and has beaten district foes Van Buren, Eagleville, and Cascade in succession, gabbing an early hold on first place at 3-0.
The Lady Champions have not beaten Forrest on their home floor since 2003, but were hoping for better results when the two squads met Monday night.
Forrest won the opening tip, but missed on their first field goal attempt. Beth Hawn stole the ball in the Cascade lane and fed Megan Porter for a fast break basket and a 2-0 FHS lead.
After a Cascade miss on their first attempt, Forrest went the other way, setting up a play for a Porter three that hit nothing but the bottom of the net and a 5-0 lead.
Forrest's pressing defense made it hard for the Lady Champs to get into any kind of early rhythm, forcing Cascade coach Chad Spencer to call timeout, trailing 6-0 with 6:22 left in the period.
Whatever Spencer said in the huddle worked, at least for a little while. Cascade scored ten straight points to go up 10-6, giving them hope of breaking the five-year drought.
The quiet and unassuming FHS point guard Bequi Bussell took it upon herself to change things and turn the tide in her team's favor.
Cascade was tightening up their defense, forcing the Lady Rockets to swing the ball from side to side, looking for the smallest opening to shoot from.
Bussell found the crack and rose up, draining a long three-pointer from the top of the key to make it 10-9.
Bussell's basket opened the floodgates for the Lady Rockets, who went on a moral breaking 18-point run that extended from the middle of the first quarter until 2:43 of the second period.
Bussell talked about the turning point in the ball game and her role on the Lady Rockets, saying, "That three really made my day because I have been struggling lately. I will shoot it when we need it, but my role on the team is to bring the ball down court, control the game, and calm everyone down when they need it."
Bussell added, "Our man to man to man press really bothered them from outset, but we missed some early shots that started falling later on. It is always good to win, but we still need to keep working on the things we need to make us better.
After the Bussell three, Taylour Allen entered the game and subsequently stole the ball from Cascade, racing in for an easy lay-in to give FHS the lead.
Beth Hawn took over the contest from that point on, scoring eight straight points, blocking two shots, and stealing two inbound passes. By the time Hawn and the Lady Rockets ran out of time in the period, they led 19-10.
Summer Waggoner opened the second period with a jumper in the blocks and moments later, scored on a tough bucket down low, drew a foul, and after losing her contact lens, nailed the free throw.
Adrean Jordan came in to spell Hawn, paying immediate dividends by scoring four straight points and keeping Cascade busy under the basket.
Two free throws by Cascade's Shelby Nelson ended the Forrest run, but it was too late as the visiting Lady Rockets had opened up a 33-14 lead by the end of the first half.
The second half began as the first had ended with a Cascade turnover followed by a Thea Ledbetter three-pointer to open up a 36-14 lead.
Forrest kept the pressure on, staying physical and quick to the ball, eventually pushing the lead all the way up to 46-19 on a Porter steal, feed to Ledbetter, and a return no-look pass by Ledbetter back to Porter for an easy lay-in.
Jean went to the entire bench not long after that, staying with his reserves for the remainder of the contest, cruising home to the 16-point win.
Hawn led the way in the scoring column with 15 points, Porter netted 8, Waggoner found her contact lens and finished with 7, Jordan and Bussell each scored 5, Thea Ledbetter had 4, Hannah Ledbetter had a second half three-bomb, and Canaan Raines and Allen each tallied a deuce.
Forrest will be back in action, tonight, traveling to Community for another District 9A battle at 6:00pm.