Rockets cage Cougars, advance to 9A semifinals
The Forrest Rockets lost their last two regular season games on the road to two quality opponents in Richland and Collinwood, toughening them up for the District 9A Tournament which began for the Chapel Hill squad Saturday night in Eagleville versus Middle Tennessee Christian School.
The Rockets were prepared and ready, stepping off the bus into a stifling man-to-man defense that held the Cougars scoreless for the first eleven minutes of the ballgame, leading 15-0 after the first quarter and three minutes into the second period, building an insurmountable 23-0 lead in a coast-to-coast 65-47 thrashing over the Murfreesboro private school.
"We were focused all day and we have been thinking about this game for awhile," said Forrest senior Seth Brothers. "We got of the bus today as a group and we came out and got the job done."
Brothers and his bunch sure did come out to play, laying it on the Cougars from the first possession, starting with a Kyle Anglin three-bomb from deep in the corner for a three-zip lead.
After misses by both squads, Forrest's Colin Henson swatted away a shot inside that led to a wide open three-pointer by Kyle Gugger for a 6-0 lead.
Another Cougar miss set up a set play that turned into an easy bucket for Gugger underneath off of a pretty dish by Preston Pratt and an 8-0 Rocket lead, forcing a Cougar timeout with 6:05 left in the quarter.
Gugger stole the rock from MTCS out of the TO and moments later, Brothers crashed the boards for a put-back and a 10-0 Forrest lead.
MTCS could not throw the ball into the ocean as Forrest pressured every shot, giving the Cougars no open looks at the bucket.
The Cougars were reeling and the Rockets made it an even dozen when Brothers snuck behind the defense, taking a perfect lob pass from Anglin for a lay-in.
With just seconds remaining in the period, Preston Pratt loading up from long range, burying a missile from three-point land, giving Forrest a 15-0 shutout after the first eight minutes.
MTCS could not score on their first touch of the second period and Henson hit one of two from the free throw line to extend the Forrest lead by one more point.
The Cougars fumbled the next possession away and Brothers made them pay, draining a three-bomb for a 19-0 Rocket lead. Another miss by the Cougars sent the Rockets back down the floor where Brothers scored on a jumper out of a set play to make it 21-0.
The Forrest defense was in full gear and a tie-up gave the ball back to the Rockets once again. A great hustle play by Kyle Griffy, who passed to Pratt for a score while falling out of bounds, made it 23-0, essentially ending the contest before MTCS finally got on the board on a Jordan Watson basket in the paint.
The score went to 30-7 by halftime and any thought of a Cougar comeback was quickly squelched by an Anglin three-pointer on Forrest's first possession of the third period, followed by a Cougar miss and a bucket by Gugger for a 35-7 Rocket lead.
The Rockets would not falter at any point from there on out, holding firm to win by 18, sending them into a semi-final match-up versus arch rival Cascade on Tuesday night at 6pm.
"We all decided that we were going to forget about what happened in the regular season and begin again," said Brothers in the postgame interview. "It is tournament time now and we have to come and play every night. As seniors we don't want this to end. This is a new season for us, a fresh start."
Anglin led the Rockets with 16 points, Gugger was next with 14, Ferris Perkins netted 10, Brothers finished with 9, Pratt had 6, Henson 5, Griffy 3, and Corey Bishop had a deuce. Killen Middleton led the Cougars with 19 points.