2011-2012 Forrest Boys Preview
The Forrest Rockets turn a new chapter this season as longtime head coach Davy McClaran resigned to become an assistant principal at the school, and in his place steps in Wesley Hobbs, a familiar name in Mid-State coaching circles.
Hobbs is the son of the recently deceased TSSAA Hall of Fame member Wayne Hobbs and current Cornersville Middle School girls assistant Sally Hobbs, along with Lady Rocket assistant coach Ashley Hobbs.
"We have got a hard working group of guys that want to come to the gym and work hard every day, and that is all you can ask for," said Hobbs.
The Rockets are coming off one of their best seasons in quite some time as they posted a 24-7 record, including a 12-2 regular season district record that earned them the league title.
"The games you want to focus on are those district games, especially when it comes to tournament time," said Hobbs. "You can peak too early and we don't want to do that."
The district tournament, however did not go as planned as host Huntland upset the Rockets, who had to settle for a third place finish.
One week later, McClaran's successful tenure ended in a disappointing 53-41 loss to McEwen in the first round of the Region 5A Tournament.
Forrest is optimistic for the current season, as they will contend for District 9A supremacy with Eagleville, Community, and pre-season favorite Huntland.
The Rockets return a bunch of talented players that saw a ton of court time last season, beginning with MVP contender Mark Pope, who will be the go to guy for Hobbs on offense as the southpaw junior can pour it in from three-land, take the rock from end to end, and defend with the best guards in the area.
Hobbs said about Pope, "He is a pure shooter, but more and more he has gotten better taking it to the basket and that has made him so much better. Plus, what most people don't know is he is such a good rebounder."
Senior Point guard Colby Anglin, currently nursing a foot injury that will keep him on the shelf until after Christmas is a solid ball handler who can run the offense, play tough defense, and provide added offense from downtown.
"I think maybe something I have been surprised with is how good he shoots the basketball," said Hobbs. "If you ask the guys out there who our best defender is, they will say Colby. He is such a great team leader and manages the game well."
Sometimes injuries can give experience to other players and junior Tyler Rumley has taken full advantage of his opportunity, highlighted by his 15-point (4 treys) career high effort last week at Moore County that included the game winning lay-up with 15 seconds remaining in the three-point win in Lynchburg.
Wingman Zach Horvath is also off to a solid start and Hobbs will run a bevy of plays in the lane and out on the wing to try to give the athletic lefty plenty of scoring opportunities. Horvath is also a solid defender and on most nights, he will either take on the opposing post player or play on the wing where he is a very proficient rebounder.
"One of the things he does surprisingly well is handle the ball for a bigger player," said Hobbs. "He is good off the dribble, and we do what we can do to get him in space. There are not going to be many players down there that can move as quickly as he can on his first step."
Senior Zach Ray will operate the low post and he has shown much improvement in the pivot, turning into a solid defender, who can also provide help in the scoring column with his athletic prowess.
Back after a one year, absence is senior Marshall Hunter, who will be in the starting lineup providing Hobbs with a deadeye long-range shooter and tenacious defender.
"Not a lot of kids would be able to do that," said Hobbs. "The thing about Marshall is he has such a smart basketball mind. He has nothing but a good attitude and he is ready to do it," said Hobbs.
Sophomores Jacob Daughrity and Kennedy Mathis, junior Dakota Zimmerman, and freshmen Ty Hoeft and Blake Leonard should work their way towards serious court time as the year wears on.
Sophomore Lucas Pruitt will help Ray in the low post when he returns from injury.
Another player to watch is freshman long-range shooter Will Edmondson, who could work his way to some court time if he can get a chance behind his talented teammates.
Look for the Rockets to play their typical brand of smothering defense with some wrinkles installed by Hobbs.
On offense, the Rockets are capable of lighting it up on any given night and that, along with their depth should bode well as the long season winds down.
Forrest should be at the top of their game come tournament time and could make a serious run toward a sub-state berth.
"The big thing that you want is to see the guys getting better," said Hobbs. "You hope every game you get a little bit better, find those things to work on and keep building on your successes. The big thing is bring it every night and if you do that you will keep getting better and with that, you can meet all those goals you set."