Jean's return a sweet one

Thursday, December 17, 2009
Beth Hawn (24) calmly drains the game winning free throw with 5.4 seconds left as the Lady Rockets took a gut-wrenching 52-51 win at Moore County Friday night. Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

After ten years away from Moore County, Forrest head coach Jeremy Jean returned to his basketball roots Friday night, leading the Lady Rockets back to Lynchburg for the first time since taking over the helm at Chapel Hill in 2008. Jean was a member of Moore County's 1999 state championship basketball team. Jean, an all-state tournament team selection that season, poured in 25 points, including 6 treys for the Raiders in their 60-49 win over Cosby in the '99' title game.

The District 9-A marquee match-up also marked the resurrection of the longtime rivalry between the two schools in league play for the first time since 2004-2005.

Forrest's Beth Hawn made the homecoming taste sweet for Jean, nailing two foul shots with 5.4 seconds left in the ballgame, giving Forrest (7-2, 3-0) a gut wrenching 52-51 win to remain undefeated in District 9-A.

An elated Jean said after the game, "It feels good; I never understood how hard it is to play here until tonight. It's hard! The atmosphere is great, but it is hostile. The crowd gets into it, the fans are loud, and the players get emotional. We beat a good team tonight and I am proud of the way the girls competed."

It was the first district loss for Moore County (5-4, 3-1) this year. The Lady Rockets have now won four out of the last five meetings with the Raiderettes. Hawn scored six points in the first four minutes of the first quarter, sending the Lady Rockets off to an early 9-4 lead. Both teams struggled to score for several possessions each until Anna Curtner buried a three-pointer, giving Forrest a 12-4 lead. A late bucket by Rachel Garland made it 12-6, Lady Rockets after the first 8 minutes. Two foul shots by Hawn late in the second quarter gave FHS a 20-11 lead, but the Raiderettes regrouped, outscoring Forrest 8-3 for the remainder of the half and trailed by just 4 points 23-19 at intermission.

The two teams traded buckets to begin the third period before Hawn drained a step-back trey, making it 28-21.

Moore County stormed back again, cutting the lead to 32-30 on an Amber Howell long shot, igniting the home crowd. Randi Toombs quieted Moore County faithful, raining down a three-bomb of her own at the other end of the floor.

With 2:42 left in the period, Garland scored, making it a one-point ballgame at 38-37.

After turnovers by each squad, Christina Curtner dialed up a long distance three, stretching the Forrest lead to 41-37.

The Raiderettes scored four straight to tie the game at 41 and then took the lead at 43-41 on a Sarah Raby bucket in the paint with 14 seconds left. The crowd was loud to begin the fourth quarter and Heather Vann turned up the decimal meter even higher, scoring the first basket of the fourth quarter, giving the Raiderettes a four-point lead.

Two Hawn baskets sandwiched around a Raby bucket made it 47-45.

Some Forrest pressure forced a Moore County turnover and Christina Curtner took advantage of the miscue, tying the game at 47 on a pull-up jumper.

The score would remain tied as both teams dug in deep, battling at both ends of the floor.

A Christina Curtner steal with just over three minutes to play set up Megan Miller at the top of the key for an ice-cold go-ahead three-bomb, giving the Lady Rockets a 50-47 lead. At the other end of the floor, Howell lit the crowd's fuse once again, converting a bucket in the paint, cutting the FHS lead to one point.

Moore County seemingly took the driver's seat, going ahead at 51-50 on another Howell basket with under a minute to play.

The Lady Rockets, uncharacteristically, turned the ball over with 31.9 seconds left.

Forrest was in trouble, having only four team fouls when they needed desperately to stop the clock.

After a Moore County timeout, the Lady Rockets made the defensive play of the game, getting a huge tie-up on the home sideline.

The possession arrow favored Forrest, who got the rock back with 22.0 seconds left.

Jean ran a set play and Hawn somehow got loose on a back door cut and was fouled, sending the senior to the line for two shots with 5.4 seconds remaining in the ballgame.

Hawn buried the first attempt, tying the game at 51 and Moore County called timeout.

Hawn stepped back to the charity stripe after the stoppage and calmly swished the second free throw, making it 52-21. Jean called timeout to set the defense and it worked as Moore County could only get off an off -balance desperation shot at the buzzer that clanked off the rim, securing the homecoming win for Jean and his victorious Lady Rockets.

"These girls are competitors and never doubted that they would come back and take the lead after they lost it," said Jean. "This is awesome, it feels good. I love it."

Hawn led all scorers with 28 points and had 10 rebounds. Miller had 7 for Forrest, the

Curtners had 5 each; Taylour Allen scored 4, and Toombs 3.

Vann had 17 for Moore County, Garland and Howell had 10 apiece, Raby had 7, newcomer Jodi Brown scored 5, and Allata Taylor scored 2.