Lady Rockets seize the moment
The Forrest Lady Rockets beat Cascade 60-42 in the first of two District 9-A Tournament semifinal match-ups Thursday night in Chapel Hill, advancing to the tournament title game Monday night versus Moore County, who defeated MTCS 57-43 in the second semifinal.
It was the win number 13 in a row for Forrest, securing a first round home satellite game next Friday night in the Region 5-A Tournament.
The No. 3 ranked Chapel Hill hardwood heroines endow what champions are made of and displayed it when the momentum was about to shift Cascade's way, seizing the moment with the game tied at eleven in the second quarter against the pesky Lady Champions.
After a low scoring 9-7 first quarter won by Forrest, Cascade made their run, tying the ballgame at 11 apiece on a basket by Tiffani Grogan with 6:00 minutes left in the first half.
Christina Curtner, undaunted by the tying Cascade trey, buried an ice cold three-bomb at the other end, swinging the lead back to Forrest at 14-11.
After a Lady Champion miss, Randi Toombs drained another three-pointer from the left wing, firing up the packed house and forcing Cascade coach Chad Spencer to call timeout at the 5:11 mark.
The orange and black from Wartrace were shook, turning the ball over to Forrest after the stoppage.
Class A Miss Basketball favorite Beth Hawn showed why she is worthy of the lofty award at the Forrest end, pulling up for a jumper that was off.
Hawn chased down the errant shot into the corner, dribbling out of trouble to find a wide open Christina Curtner.
Curtner zeroed in on the hoop and swished the trey, making it a 20-11 ballgame.
Cascade could not find their range, missing again.
That spelled trouble for Spencer's squad when Anna Curtner got into the long range act, burying another three-bomb from the corner, pushing the FHS lead to 23-11.
Adrean Jordan went to the floor at the other, gaining a tie-up for the Lady Rockets.
Forrest head coach Jeremy Jean called a set play from the bench, designed to deceive the defense into thinking Hawn was going to the blocks, but instead the pass went in, but Hawn went out, receiving the pass behind the three-point stripe and draining it for a 26-11 Forrest lead.
Spencer called timeout again with 2:14 remaining in the half and the result was the same as before.
Toombs stepped in front of a Cascade pass and swiped the rock.
She looked up court and found Hawn streaking the other way for a lay-in off the glass and a huge 28-11 lead.
Cascade finally broke the 17-0 Forrest run with 1:14 left in the half on two foul shots by Jessica Popp.
The Lady Rockets trotted off the court for the halftime intermission to the delight of the home crowd, maintaining the 17-point lead at 30-13.
"I think the rust got off. We came out kind of rusty and they came out fired up and ready to play," said Jean after the game. "We weathered the storm and just started clicking. Once we were clicking there wasn't much they could do to stop us."
Cascade was in a no-win defensive situation, having to decide whether to come out to face the sharpshooting Lady Rockets from the outside or stay home to collapse and try to defend Hawn in the paint.
Spencer choose to come on out and Hawn and Jean were glad.
Jean said about Spencer's dilemma, "We wanted to make them come out in the first half. I got all the confidence in the world that they will make those three's. We tweaked our offense a little bit to get some open shots and it worked."
Cascade tried to put the brakes on the long range game after the half and it played right into Hawn's strength as she scored 14 of her game high 23 points in the second half.
"That kind of play will get us a long way," said Jean. "If they play a zone, we try to shoot them out of it and if they guard man-to man then Beth can go to work inside and we got some guards that can take you off the dribble also."
Forrest led by twenty-one after three quarters and was never challenged the rest of the way, cruising home to the 60-42 win.
Forrest plays Moore County for the district tournament title Monday night at 7:30 p.m. in Chapel Hill.
"We just want to keep playing. It's all about rhythm and momentum now," said Jean.
Forrest's Christina Curtner finished with 16 points and Anna Curtner had 10. Megan Miller scored 4, Toombs had 3, and Taylour Allen and Jordan scored 2 points each.
M.K. Potts led Cascade with 12 points, Haley Edmondson and Grogan had 10 points each, Popp finished with 8, and Alyssa Hoover scored 2 points.
Cascade and MTCS will play for 3rd place Monday night at 6:00 p.m., but both will have to travel in round one of the Region