Since 2007, arch rival Cascade has played spoiler to many a Forrest dream, sporting a 5-2 record during that span, while knocking off the Chapel Hill hoopsters in some big post-season games.
Tuesday night at Eagleville, Forrest came in as the number five seed and turned the tables on the top-seeded Champions, winning in gutsy fashion 52-47, advancing to the District 9-A title game tonight at 7:30pm versus the hometown Eagles.
Eagleville bounced the up-start Community Vikings into the consolation contest versus Cascade with a big second half surge that led to an easy 50-29 win.
The Rockets knew the Champs had not played a ballgame in eight days and wanted to get off to a solid start before Cascade shook off the rust from the layoff.
How does an 11-0 run to begin the ballgame sound?
Forrest senior Colin Henson came off the yellow school bus on fire, scoring the Rockets' first eight points, including back-to-back three-pointers and an unbelievable hustle play on the sideline, saving the ball from going out of bounds.
Cascade looked rattled after Henson's second trey, throwing up a brick that was rebounded by senior Seth Brothers, who swung the outlet pass to Henson, who fed senior Kyle Anglin in the corner where the red-headed sharp shooter drained a deep three-bomb, giving the Rockets an 11-0 bulge.
Jacob Carcuff, who led the Champs with 14 points in the contest, finally silenced the Forrest throng with a short jumper in the paint with just under four minutes to play in the quarter.
Two Rocket turnovers led to Cascade cutting the lead to 11-5, before Anglin found Parker Holton on a give and go, making it a 13-5 spread. A late three-pointer by Cascade's Gerald "Happy" Johnson sent a ray of hope to the Champ's cheering section, making the score 13-8 at the end of the first eight minutes.
The Rockets were not about to let Cascade build on that momentum, scoring the first eight points of the second quarter. Anglin led off the surge with an end-to-end bucket and followed that up one possession later with a three-pointer from the top of the key, forcing Cascade head coach Charlie Pope to call timeout.
After a Cascade missed shot attempt after the timeout, Preston Pratt went downtown from the right corner, giving the Rockets a 21-8 lead.
Cascade scored four straight before Henson drained his third trey of the ballgame, enabling the Rockets to double up the score at 24-12. Cascade scored four points, all on foul shots at the end of the half, making it a 24-16 Forrest lead, going into the locker room.
There was no way Cascade was going to go down without a fight in this one and they started their assault on the Rockets, beginning the second half, scoring six consecutive points, cutting the lead to 24-22.
Again it was the senior Anglin who answered the call, knocking down an off-balance three-bomb to stretch the Forrest lead back to five points.
Carcuff scored four in a row to cut the lead to one and the Champs went ahead for the first time in the game after getting a tie-up on one end and a basket at the other by Christian Edmondson at the 2:53 mark of the quarter, forcing FHS head coach Davy McClaran to call timeout.
Anglin stood tall in the saddle again for Forrest, scoring two buckets in a row to put the Rockets out in front again at 31-28. Forrest scored the last basket of the third quarter on a pure hustle play by Holton, who battled three times for a rebound before putting it through the net for a 33-28 Rocket lead after twenty-four minutes.
The Rockets looked like they would put the game away early in the fourth quarter when Holton and Kyle Griffy scored, making it a nine-point Rocket lead at 37-28.
Carcuff hit a three, followed by an Edmondson bucket to keep Cascade in the contest at 37-33.
Seth Brothers scored for Forrest on a pretty out of bounds play, but was matched by another Carcuff bucket.
A Rocket turnover at mid-court sent Edmondson racing in for an easy lay-up, but both Anglin and Henson hustled back to knock the ball off Edmondson's leg, giving the ball back to Forrest with just over two minutes to play in the game.
"We were the underdog fifth seed coming into the tournament," said a worn out Anglin after the game. "We have had our doubters all season, even in our hometown and now we can show them all that we can win this district championship."
That play would be the difference in the game, ending the Champs last comeback hope.
Cascade would not score again the game, sending the Rockets into the championship game with the seven-point win.
McClaran also spent after the hard fought contest said, "We have had a tough season all year. We have overcome a lot of different things to get here and now all of our hard work is starting to pay off. We all knew we could here to this point. We knew we could get it done."
"I am proud of the boys," McClaran added. "This is sweet coming from the fifth seed and getting an opportunity to play for the district title."
The Rockets not only earned a shot at the District 9-A title tonight with the win, they also assured themselves a first round Region 5 tournament game at home on Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. versus a District 10-A opponent.