Forrest fends off tough Champion squad
The Forrest Rockets let one slip away on Monday at home versus MTCS, but were determined not to let it happen again on Tuesday night at Cascade and they didn't, barely escaping Wartrace with a 49-48 win over a tough Champions squad.
Mark Pope turned in another monster performance for the Rockets, pouring in a game high 23 points, including five three-pointers and a couple of huge free throws down the stretch.
"I knew I had to make those free throws at the end," said Pope. "This is huge after what happened last night, now we know we can beat anybody in our district after coming off a loss."
Cascade took a 13-9 lead after one quarter and led by four points as the first half wound down before Pope drilled a three-bomb with just seconds remaining to pull the Rockets to within one point at 20-19, entering the second half.
Both squads shot well in third quarter as the action was up-tempo and exciting with the Rockets gaining the upper hand on a couple of three balls from Pope and Tyler Rumley late to build a 38-32 lead.
Cascade's Blake Floyd hit a jumper and was followed by Alex Hatchett, who went downtown with under two minutes to go in the period to get the home squad to within one point at 38-37.
Forrest withstood the charge with two free throws by Pope and one by Jacob Daughrity to take a 41-37 in to the final eight minutes of play.
At the 4:30 mark of the fourth quarter, Nolan Barnes tied the contest for Cascade with a tough bucket in the paint, and from there it was nip and tuck until the final seconds ticked away.
A Will Holt free throw with 2:37 remaining in the game gave the Champions the lead they were fighting for all night at 44-43, but it was short lived as Rumley hit consecutive baskets for Forrest to put the Rockets back up 47-44.
Anthony Marable hit one of two from the charity stripe with 1:36 to play, cutting the Forrest lead to two points.
The Rockets could not convert on a pair of huge one and one situations with 48.8 and 16.6 seconds remaining in the game.
Jesse Barnes stepped to the free throw line for Cascade with 7.4 seconds left in the contest with a chance to tie, but could only make one shot, leaving the Champions in a one-point hole at 47-46.
Forrest head coach Wes Hobbs called timeout after the miss and drew a play up for Pope that worked as he was fouled with 6.5 seconds left in the battle.
Cascade called timeout to ice Pope, but he calmly drained both shots after the stoppage to make it 49-46 and the Champions called timeout again.
Rumley almost stole the inbounds pass, but the ball was awarded to Cascade in front of the scorer's table with 5.6 seconds left.
Forrest tightened up on defense and would not allow an uncontested three-pointer, but the Champs launched one anyway that was off the mark, but put in by Barnes for two points as time ran out in the one-point win for Forrest.
"We were not going to allow an easy three-pointer at the end," said Pope. "We would have given up a two and we were not going to foul. We had to play tough defense at the end there and we did."
Rumley finished with 11 points for Forrest (7-5, 4-1), Zach Horvath netted six, Zach Ray and Marshall Hunter had 4 points apiece, and Daughrity had the one free throw.
Barnes led Cascade (1-5, 1-2) with 18 and Marable scored 12.