The Forrest Rockets went up against a talented and athletic Lancaster Christian squad in day one action at the Eagleville Christmas Classic and staved off the run and gun Knights to prevail 69-56 thanks to a huge 20-9 fourth quarter that provided the finishing touch on Forrest's fourth consecutive victory.
Forrest's Kyle Gugger broke out of his early season scoring drought with 25 points, including two three-pointers and a 5-6 effort from the free throw line.
McClaran said about Gugger's effort, "He was bound to come out of it at some point and time. Lancaster allowed him to get his hands on the ball and when he was going against their great athletes one on one, he did what a great scorer can do, he put the ball in the bucket."
The Knights would tie the game at 13 on two free throws by Chris Dansby, but a late rebound and put-back by Dane Leonard gave Forrest a 15-13 lead after one quarter.
Gugger knocked down the first basket of the second quarter and he would go on to score nine out of the Rockets' sixteen points in the period.
Pope had a trey in the second eight minutes and Ray added four points for the Rockets, who led 31-27 at the half.
Lancaster's Bre Hughes scored the first basket of the second half, but Pope went deep for Forrest, making it 34-29.
Dansby matched Pope's trey and after a Forrest turnover, Hughes scored on a breakaway to knot the contest at 34.
A Dansby bucket gave the Knights a 36-34 lead before Gugger and Ray scored back-to-back baskets for Forrest, see sawing the advantage back to the Rockets.
With 1:37 remaining in the quarter, Hughes slammed home a monster dunk, but was whistled for a technical foul for hanging on the rim.
Ray hit one of two freebies for a 47-41 Forrest lead, but the Knights responded with a 6-2 run and trailed by just two points 49-47 when the buzzer sounded, ending the quarter.
The Rockets jumped out quick in the final period, beginning with a Corey Bishop three-pointer and a Gugger put-back to take a 54-47 lead.
Zaonte Carr stopped the Rocket surge with one free throw, but Gugger responded with a huge five straight points to build an eleven- point lead for Forrest to force a Lancaster timeout.
McClaran said, "It is those effort plays that really make you a special ballplayer and before the game I challenged all of them to get to the offensive boards and he (Gugger) responded well to being challenged and now that we know he can do that, we are going to hold him accountable."
The Knights went ice cold from the free throw line after the Gugger bucket, missing the front end on one and one bonus situations three out four times over the next several minutes.
In contrast, Taylor Gentry and Bishop both nailed both ends in bonus situations down the stretch for the Rockets, who kept their cool and pulled away for the thirteen- point victory.
McCord and Ray scored nine points apiece for Forrest (11-2, 3-1), Gentry and Pope had a half dozen each, Bishop ended up with five, Anglin netted four, and Zach Horvath notched two points in the ballgame.
Dansby had 14 for Lancaster (12-3), Carr wound up with 13, Hughes had 11, Argo 10, and Dominique Bell scored eight for the Knights.