The under-manned Forrest Rockets and the Clarkrange Buffaloes played a tight opening night Hall of Fame game in Chapel Hill Tuesday night, won by the visitors 51-47.
The Rockets were minus their only two seniors for the game.
Ferris Perkins, who tore his ACL, is most likely lost for the entire season and his fellow senior Parker Holton has a strained MCL that will keep him out until Christmas.
Both were counted on as the Rockets' main post players.
The senior-less Rockets played inspired from the outset, beginning with a long three-pointer by Corey Bishop on the Rockets' first possession.
Clarkrange pushed forward as the Rockets fell behind 10-7 before Dane Leonard's rebound and put-back cut the lead to 10-9.
Kyle Gugger, who finished with a team high 16 points for the Rockets hit two buckets late in the period, giving Forrest a 13-10 lead after the first eight minutes.
Clarkrange outscored Forrest 5-2 in the first four minutes of the second quarter, tying the game at 15 before Leonard put the home team back in front on a jumper in the paint.
A Gugger steal at mid-court and a lay-up gave the Rockets a 17-15 margin, but a three-pointer by Jake Alderman sliced it back to one for the Buffaloes.
From that point on, Clarkrange scored five straight to end the half and led 24-19.
Bishop nailed the second of his four three's on the night on the Rockets' first touch of the second half.
The Buffaloes opened up a five-point lead at 33-28 before Bishop drained another long bomb, cutting the Clarkrange lead back to two points.
An Alderman three-point play down low stretched the Buffalo margin back to 36-31, but Bishop dialed long distance again, keeping Forrest close at 36-34.
A Chad Henry three-point play kept Forrest at bay, trailing 39-34.
A Bishop free throw made it 39-35 and a late bucket by Tyler Messick brought the Rockets within just two points of the Buffaloes after three quarters.
Gugger's strong move to the hoop for a score with 5:26 left in the game tied the contest at 39.
Clarkrange's Steven Jones and Forrest's Justin McCord traded three-pointers for a 42-42 tie before Taylor Gentry stole the rock and went the distance, giving the Rockets their last lead of the game at 44-42 with 3:03 left.
Forrest called timeout with 47.9 seconds left in the game and had the ball, trailing 47-44.
Forrest head coach Davy McClaran called timeout to set up a play to free up Bishop in the corner and it worked as he broke free and launched the shot that went halfway down before spinning out.
Jones was fouled on the rebound and hit two-of-two from the line with 31.8 seconds left, giving the Buffaloes a 49-45 lead.
Forrest could not muster the miracle comeback and fell by the four-point margin, 51-47.
McClaran felt his team could have won the ballgame and said after the game, "We started the first quarter out fine and I think after the first quarter we felt like the game was over. We were just satisfied and laid down too much. We would get the lead and get relaxed. We couldn't make a defensive stop and that has always been our trademark. I am not so worried about our offense because I felt like we missed a lot of shots we were capable of making, but just the fact that we worked so much on our defense and we did not get the job done. We just didn't make the stops we were capable of."
Besides Gugger's 16 points, Bishop had 13 for the Rockets, Leonard had 6, Gentry 5, McCord 3, and Messick and Taylor Schoenberger had two points apiece.
Alderman scored 16 and Jones 13 for the Buffaloes.