Starting with the MTCS game on Jan. 30, Forrest head coach Jeremy Jean has been preparing his squad for the upcoming post-season, beginning this weekend with the opening of the District 9-A Tournament at Eagleville.
Forrest intentionally scheduled two year-ending, tough road games to end the season at Richland and at Collinwood to test their meddle.
The fourth ranked Lady Rockets were tested at Richland Friday night and scored an 'A', coming away with a gutty 63-58 win to move to 22-3 on the season.
At this time of year, winning in the post-season usually merits one or two players that do not necessarily score in double digits or even play 20 minutes a night, being the difference between beginning softball practice or going to the Murphy Center in March.
Jean may have found his two aces in the hole Friday night in junior Taylour Allen and sophomore Christina Curtner. Curtner banged home three treys in the ballgame with two of those coming late in the second quarter, slicing a seven-point Richland lead to just one at the half and then Curtner drained another long bomb in a third quarter, sparking the rally that led to Forrest taking control, going into the final period.
Allen usually plays a quite a bit, coming into ballgames as the resident bulldog defender. Allen had two huge steals late in the fourth period, staving off the Lady Raiders final push.
With 1:42 left in the contest, Forrest was leading 61-56 and Richland was in a timeout, drawing up a play in an attempt to mount their last charge. Richland tossed the ball inbounds to Alyssia Reynolds and Allen immediately jumped in her grill.
Reynolds made it slightly past half court before Allen pounced in perfectly, timing the steal to perfection and as Reynolds fell to the floor, Allen raced in alone for an easy lay-up to seal the deal.
Allen described the play after the game, saying, "I was thinking we needed to keep this lead and I had kind of had her timed. She likes to go right and I made her go left and out-witted her." (My brother used to call that getting foofed when he did it to me at the park).
Allen added, "I love being that defensive player. Three pointers happen often, but when you steal the ball it is kind of a one on one thing and gets everyone fired up."
Jean was happy about the outcome of the game after the contest, talking about how hard it is to win on the road this late in the season, getting some spark off the bench, and what it takes to get on the floor if you want to be part of the rotation.
"We are taking everyone we have got now as the last game of the season and we will leave it all on the floor," said the rookie coach at Forrest.
Jean went to say, "Taylour did a great job coming in and giving us that spark. She can make it really hard on other team's point guards. In that last seven minutes we really stepped it up defensively and stopped giving them good looks at the basket and I think that was the difference."
Jean also had big smile on face, talking about Curtner's coming out party. "Christina has worked extremely hard in practice and her hard work and unselfishness has gotten her on the floor. The way she played tonight combined with the way she practices, it will be hard to keep her off of the floor."
Beth Hawn found her rhythm again, leading the Lady Rockets with 21 points. Summer Waggoner scored 13 points, including 5-9 from the free throw line. Curtner had 9 points as did Megan Porter, who also played a great game at both ends. Bequi Bussell was her solid self and scored 5 points, Thea Ledbetter had 4 points and Allen scored two points and broke some Lady Raider egos.
The Lady Rockets will have a first-round bye in the district tournament and will open Tuesday night.