Rockets scratch and claw, but Cats prevail
The Forrest Rockets would have loved to do a repeat performance from last year when they swept both Collinwood and Wayne County at the Waynesboro Christmas Classic, unfortunately it did not happen this holiday season.
Forrest (4-8, 1-3) gave the Wildcats (7-4, 2-1) raised hairs on their back until the final minute of the ballgame, falling 51-40.
Both squads struggled through a low scoring first quarter, not being able to make a basket, while trading turnovers. Forrest fell behind 4-0 before climbing back into the contest and taking the lead at 7-6 on a Colin Henson bucket off of a nice interior pass from Ferris Perkins.
A late steal and bucket with just seconds left by Wayne County's Austin Rice made the score 8-7 in favor of the Cats after one period.
Forrest came out smoking to begin the second quarter. Leading the way was Henson, who drained consecutive three's to push the Rockets out in front 13-8 and forcing Wayne County into an early timeout.
The Cats turned the ball over out of the timeout, setting up another three-pointer, this time by Corey Bishop to double up the Wildcats 16-8.
Tyler Dixon scored for Wayne County before Henson threw in a fall-away, off balance, circus shot, put-back to make it 18-10.
Forrest turned the ball over fives times over the final five minutes of the first half, allowing the home squad Cats to come back and tie the game at 19-19.
Wayne County scored the first four points of the third period, before Kyle Gugger got the Rockets on the board with a driving lay-up.
The Rockets cut the lead to four at 25-21 and Seth Brothers followed with a three-pointer to make it a one-point game at 25-24.
The Cats scored six straight after the Brothers bomb for a 31-24 lead and held a 36-30 lead after three quarters of play.
The Wildcats opened the fourth quarter with a basket and had the ball after a Rocket missed shot. Henson darted in and stole the ball, streaking to the other end for an open lay-up, but the ball rolled off the rim where Gugger was waiting for the put-back bucket to make it 36-32.
Forrest again fell behind on a four point surge by the Cats, but Preston Pratt got them right back in the game with a three-pointer from the corner with five minutes left.
The Rockets got the ball back on a Wildcat turnover and got two free from Brothers to trail by three points at 40-37. Another Cat miscue lead to a Brothers jumper, cutting the lead to a single point with 4:04 left in the ballgame.
With Wayne County leading 44-40 and just over two minutes to play in the game, the bottom fell out on the Rockets, who did not score the rest of the ballgame, losing 51-40.
Rice, who averages 21.9 points per game, scored 20 versus the Rockets. Brothers led the way for FHS, scoring a dozen in the contest, followed by Henson, who had 10 points, Gugger scored 9, Pratt had 5, Bishop had the one long bomb for 3 points, and Perkins had 2 points.