Forrest Rockets quick off the pad
With a hot 3-0 start, the mindset of the Forrest Rockets is much different from last season when they limped out to a 0-6 start before settling down and making a late season run that culminated with a District 9A Tournament title.
After beating Tullahoma 47-38 on the road Friday night, the Rockets made it two in a row over the Wildcats with a rough and tumble 49-44 win at the Forrest Thanksgiving Tournament on Wednesday.
Forrest head coach Davy McClaran said, "It was extremely challenging. I felt like we came in and our focus was in the right place and we didn't have any let downs. We were not satisfied just beating them the one time."
Forrest had lost six straight to the Wildcats (0-3) before the pair of wins and the series has evolved from a friendly rivalry to a heated one over the last four years that the two teams have played in early season match-ups.
McClaran said, "We want to get that triple A win and they don't want a single A team stealing one from them. It is almost like a district game, a knockdown, drag-out affair. The game tonight was very, very physical."
The Rockets scored first on two Kyle Gugger free throws and another foul shot by Zach Ray, followed by a basket by Zach Horvath that gave the Rockets an early 5-1 lead.
Later on, another Horvath basket extending the lead to 11-5 and a Colby Anglin drive to the hoop for a score made it 13-5.
Consecutive baskets by Tullahoma's Allen Starks and Tyler Brandon cut the FHS lead to 13-9 at the end of the quarter.
The Wildcats took a 14-13 lead on a three-pointer by Matt Passarello before Forrest took it back for good on a Gugger basket.
Gugger's basket began a 13-4 run to end the first for Forrest, who led 27-18 at the half.
Corey Bishop and Colby Anglin had big treys for the Rockets during the spurt.
The Rockets held firm in the third quarter, extending their lead to as much as thirteen points before Tullahoma cut it to ten, going into the final eight minutes.
Tullahoma stormed back to began the period, slicing Forrest's lead to just three points at 36-33 in two minutes of action.
One Gugger free throw, a drive to the hoop and score by Taylor Gentry, and a huge trey by Bishop made it a 42-35 ballgame, forcing a Tullahoma timeout with 2:58 remaining in the contest.
From there it was tight the rest of the way and with 38.6 seconds left, a Matt Passarello rebound and put-back kept the Wildcats in the contest at 47-44.
After a Tullahoma timeout, Bishop was fouled and he canned both attempts, making it 49-44.
The Wildcats scrambled for points, but did not get anymore and the game ended.
Gugger was the leading scorer for the Rockets in the contest with a dozen points, Gentry finished with 9, Bishop 8, Horvath 7, Anglin 5, Justin McCord had a three-pointer, Mark Pope and Tanner Bennett had two points each, and Ray finished with the single marker.
Matt Passarello also had a dozen points for Tullahoma and his twin brother Mike scored 10.
Forrest takes on Murfreesboro Central magnet School tonight at 5:30 p.m.