Forrest comes alive, trounces Cascade
The Cascade Champions took the brunt of the lingering, stinging feeling haunting Forrest after their semifinal loss to Huntland Tuesday night when the Rockets trounced their archrivals from Wartrace 65-47 in Friday night's consolation game.
It was never close.
"We played a lot looser tonight," said Forrest head coach Davy McClaran. "These guys have worked hard and it was nice to see them play like they have early in the season."
Forrest has beaten the Champions 5 straight times and four times in four years in District 9-A Tournament games.
"You know, I don't know why, but some teams you just match up good with," said McClaran. "It's a rivalry in every sport and you don't have to do a lot of pumping up in the locker room to play Cascade."
Forrest sophomore sharpshooter Mark Pope came out on fire, burying a trio of three-pointers before Cascade ever got started and the Champions found themselves in a 10-3 hole they would never dig out of.
McClaran said about the quick start, "That lead was huge. We came out and attacked from the get-go and I am really proud of our focus. We knew once we got up like that, they would be tight in every shot they took."
Christian Edmondson scored after the third Pope trey, but was whistled for a technical foul when he argued a foul call.
Zach Ray nailed both of the ensuing free throws.
One possession later, regular season District 9-A MVP Kyle Gugger got on the scoreboard with a bucket down low and then Taylor Gentry came up with a steal and score to make it a 16-5 ballgame.
There was no scoring for several possessions before Pope converted on a fast break bucket after a Cascade turnover.
The Champions scored to end the Forrest eight-point run, but a late three-pointer by Justin McCord gave the Rockets a 21-7 lead after the first period.
Cascade turned the ball over to start the second quarter and McCord made them pay with another fast break basket behind the Champions' defense to get the ball rolling on a 7-1 Forrest run.
A Gugger bucket in the paint and three-bomb by Gentry accounted for the other Forrest points in the spurt that opened up a twenty-point lead for the Rockets at 28-8.
Cascade would try to dig back, cutting the Forrest lead to sixteen points midway through the period until Gugger scored four straight points to re-open the twenty-point lead.
The Rockets stayed in control and took a 38-22 lead to the second half.
Forrest made a point they were not going to let the Champions come back when Colby Anglin and Pope drained bookend treys around a Ryan Massey basket for Cascade in the first three possessions of the third period and the lead was twenty once again.
It was a near stalemate for the remainder of the quarter as the Rockets took a 50-31 lead to the final eight minutes of action.
With just over five minutes to play in the game, DeAnte Taylor scored for Cascade to cut the Forrest lead to fifteen points at 53-38 before Pope took over and put the Champions away for good.
Pope started the dagger run with two foul shots after fighting for a rebound and then stole the ball from Cascade and raced in for a lay-up before stealing the rock again at midcourt and feeding Anglin for an easy lay-up that swelled the Rocket lead 59-38, taking all the air out the Cascade balloon.
The Rockets cruised home from there in the eighteen-point victory.
Forrest (24-6) will travel next Saturday night for a match-up in the opening round of the Region 5-A Tournament versus the loser of tonight's 10-A title game between Clarksville Academy (26-1) and McEwen.
Forrest lost to McEwen last year 62-41 in the second round of the region tournament and to Clarksville Academy the previous two years in elimination games.
The Rockets are 5-3 in first round region games since 2002-2003, but have fared poorly in elimination games in the same time period, having lost by an average margin of 14.7 points in those contests and they have only reached a sub-state game once in 1997.
"We are going to have a good game plan," said McClaran. "Obviously being on the road will be a big disadvantage, but I think our speed will be an advantage no matter who we play. We are going to try to use our strengths and make their weaknesses come out."
Pope led the Forrest scoring attack with 22 points, Gugger scored 15, Zach Ray netted eight, Anglin 7, Gentry 6, McCord 5, and Zach Horvath ended up with 2.
Gugger was named District 9-A Regular Season MVP and was joined on the All-Regular Season squad by Pope and Gentry.
Gugger and Anglin were the only two Forrest players named to the All-Tournament Team.
Eagleville's Michael Davenport garnered All-Tournament MVP after his Eagles took a 43-41 win over host Huntland in the title game.