For the No. 2 ranked Forrest Lady Rockets it was much sooner then anyone had expected as the odds caught up with them Monday night in Cross Plains, falling 51-47 to Middle Tennessee Christian School in the semifinals of the Region 5-A Tournament at East Robertson High School.
The win was the first for the Lady Cougars over Forrest in the last 17 tries, snapping the Lady Rockets 15-game winning streak and ending their magical four-year run of state tournament appearances, including the state title in 2005-2006 in their first try.
The entire game was nip and tuck with Forrest holding the slimmest of leads on several occasions in the first half, but MTCS would always come back at the end of every period and led after the buzzer of each quarter.
MTCS lead 18-17 after the first period, 27-25 at the halftime intermission, 36-34 after three quarters, and at the very end.
Senior Alex Martin had a monster game for MTCS, pouring in 21 points, including five three-pointers.
Martin and her fellow senior Katie Mullins, who scored 18 points in the contest, came up huge time after time, stopping every Forrest comeback attempt.
Forrest never held a second half lead and only managed to tie the game once at the outset of the fourth quarter before Martin, Mullins, and the Lady Cougars slammed the door on the Lady Rockets' season.
A jubilant Martin said after the game, "We played together and we played like we know we can, it was a great game. They played like Forrest can and kept it on us and we knew we had to work hard to win. Kate and I knew we had to stick together and we came out and played like a team. This is special, we have never beaten Forrest before, but we are not done yet."
Since the 2006-2007 season, Forrest and MTCS have squared off in three district championship games, two region finals, and Monday night's semifinal.
It will be an all District 9-A region championship title tilt with MTCS (22-8) taking on Moore County (24-7), who defeated McEwen 47-27 in the first semifinal contest.
The winner of Wednesday night's championship game will host a sub-state game next Friday night and the loser will go on the road to play the Region 6-A winner, either Summertown or Wayne County.
Forrest senior and Class A Miss Basketball finalist Beth Hawn scored 15 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and blocked 6 shots in her last game as a Lady Rocket.
Last year's Class A Miss Basketball winner, Jackson County's Laken Leonard is the only 2009-2010 finalist still playing.
The third finalist, Molly Heady and the defending Class A state champion Clarkrange Lady Buffaloes were also upset Monday night in the Region 4-A semifinal by Red Boiling Springs, 46-44.
At one end of the spectrum was Martin's earned jubilance, but at the opposite end was the pain and sadness of sudden elimination, especially a visibly upset Forrest head coach Jeremy Jean, who said after the ballgame, "I am proud to be their coach. They always played hard for me up until the very end. We had a great season, but it just ended a couple of games too early. I wouldn't trade any of them for the world. If you want to blame somebody, blame me, don't blame my players. They played well and made us play bad and they just took it away from us. They played well."
"I hate it," added Jean. "But it goes that way sometimes. It's gonna be tough."
Anna Curtner scored 10 points for Forrest (26-5), Christina Curtner and Adrean Jordan scored 7 points each, Taylour Allen netted 6 in her last game for Forrest, and Megan Miller ended up with 2 points.
Martin and Mullins combined for 39 points out of the 51 total for MTCS.
Julia Howard scored 8 and Ashley Brewer and Devin Welker had 2 points each for the Lady Cougars.