The Forrest Rockets' improbable ride to the top of the District 9-A tournament was derailed Friday night as the host Eagleville Eagles cruised straight down the middle of the highway in a coast-to-coast 62-48, securing back- to- back titles for Eagles' head coach Joey Reed and his squad.
"Winning back to back titles in this district is special," said the Eagleville coach after the game. "With the kind of coaches we have in the district like Davy, Charlie, Jace, all of them make every game a tough one. This has been a tough district for years and this tournament this year proves it."
Eagleville took advantage of the home court immediately, jumping out to an 8-0 before Ferris Perkins finally lit the scoreboard for Forrest at the 2:42 mark of the first quarter.
"We talked about that all week," said Reed. "We did not want them to jump out to an eleven nothing lead or a twenty-five to nothing lead like they have done lately. They are a different team when they are ahead. We knew that was the most important thing."
If it were not for Perkins the Rockets may have been completely out the game before the first eight minutes. Perkins was monster in paint, scoring all eight Rockets' points in the last two and half minutes of the first quarter, keeping the Eagleville lead in reach at 12-8.
Barrett Bingham opened the second quarter scoring for Eagleville and then Forrest made their run, beginning with Perkins going to the foul line for two shots. He made the first attempt, but Kyle Gugger muscled in to rebound the missed second shot, putting up and in, cutting the lead to three points.
After an Eagleville miss, Gugger got free underneath for another rebound of a missed FHS field goal attempt and was fouled. In between an Eagleville timeout, Gugger made one of two, getting the Rockets within one bucket.
Eagleville's Jared Wilson, named the tournament MVP after the game, scored to make it a four point game once again.
The Rockets got a huge three-pointer from Seth Brothers on their next touch, slicing the margin to one point at 16-15.
Unfortunately, that would the last time they would get that close the rest of the way.
The Eagles drew out to a five point lead before Preston Pratt hit a trey for Forrest, but JoJo Wilson scored five straight points for the home squad and Eagleville would lead 31-24 at the half.
The Rockets continued to hang tough beginning the second half, cutting the margin to 33-29 on another Pratt trey. Bingham scored for the Eagles and Gugger managed a three-point play in the paint, making it a 35-32 ballgame.
Eagleville began to surge behind the home crowd, going on a back breaking 9-0 run to lead 44-32.
"Our crowd was tremendous tonight," said Reed. "I think they were the difference in the second half."
Eagleville would take an eleven-point 47-36 lead into the final quarter.
Forrest would not come back in the game as the Eagles held the home turf, winning the title and sending the Rockets back to Chapel Hill with a very hard earned second place finish.
"That is a very good team over there," said Forrest coach Davy McClaran. "I think we had some nerves tonight being on the big stage in the big game. We did a good job on offense, but missed a lot of shots on open looks.
Forrest was led in the scoring column by Perkins with (15), Gugger (10), Pratt (8), Brothers (9), Henson (4), and Kyle Anglin (2).
The Rockets (12-17) will be looking for revenge Saturday night in Chapel Hill when they take on Clarksville Academy (23-5) at 7pm in a Region 5-A opener. The Cougars ended the Rockets' season last year with a 67-50 win at Clarksville.