Rockets earn tough win over Eagles
Longtime hard-court rivalries are usually associated with proximity and that is certainly the case for Forrest and Eagleville with the latest District 9-A tilt played out on Tuesday in Chapel Hill with the Rockets coming out on top 68-57 in what turned out to be a rough and tumble ending.
Forrest's Zach Horvath, who tied teammate Mark Pope with game-high scoring honors with 21 points in the contest, challenged the Eagles to stop his athletic game in the paint all night to no avail and in the final seconds of the ballgame, Horvath got tangled up near midcourt while being fouled and tempers began to flare, but the TSSAA referees took control before any incidents took place.
Horvath said after the game, "We got up on them and they were trying to foul us and things happened with tensions running high, whatever."
Just another chapter in the rivalry that now has the Rockets (14-6, 7-1) winning five straight over Eagleville (8-9, 4-5), while upping their current season winning streak to six games and eight out of their last 10.
"It has always been a good rivalry," said Horvath. "They had us on our heels for awhile, but we looked straight ahead and pulled it out."
Horvath scored the first five points in the ballgame, all in the paint.
The Eagles scrambled back to take an 8-7 lead, capped on a bucket by Ryan Ghee before Horvath scored again.
Eagleville called timeout at the 4:04 mark of the first period, but coughed up the rock after the stoppage and Lucas Pruitt made them pay with a basket down low to make it an 11-8 Forrest lead.
With the score 13-12 Forrest, Pruitt scored another post basket and the Eagles turned the ball over again, setting up a Tyler "Juice" Rumley three-pointer from the top of the key that found nothing but the bottom of the net.
An Eagles' missed shot at the other end led to Horvath's ninth point of the quarter, putting the Rockets up 20-12 before a Ghee basket ended the first period scoring.
A Chris Hale rebound and put-back for Eagleville midway through the second quarter kept the Eagles relatively close at 26-18 before Pope got into the act with a jumper, a long three-bomb, and a score off a Rumley steal to just one Eagleville score, pushing Forrest's lead to 34-20.
With the first half winding down, Pope and Horvath scored after a pair of Eagle miscues and the Rockets went to the intermission leading big, 38-22.
Forrest maintained a double-digit lead for much of the third quarter, but a pair of back-to-back treys by Eagleville's Ben Kelley, including a buzzer-beater, sliced the home team's lead to just seven at 51-44, entering the final eight minutes of play.
The Rockets came out smoking in the quarter, beginning with a Colby Anglin rebound and put-back off his own missed shot.
Zach Ray made it 55-44, and after an Eagle brick, Marshall Hunter went downtown for three more points, making it a 14-point lead for the Rockets.
Two possessions later, Horvath scored on a turn-around jumper, extending FHS' lead to 16 points at 60-46, essentially putting the cap on the contest.
The Forrest lead would remain at the double-digit mark until under two minutes to play when Eagleville cut it to nine at 63-54 on a Chris Hale basket.
Eagleville began to foul to try to stay in the game and the Rockets let them hang around with five consecutive misses from the free throw line before Ghee made it a seven-point game at 63-56 with under 40 seconds to play.
After a Horvath bucket, followed by an Eagles' turnover, Eagleville coach Joseph Reed was whistled for a technical foul on the incident involving Horvath and one of his players on a foul call near midcourt that went against the visitors.
Horvath made both free throws for the foul call and Rumley made one of the two freebies for the technical foul for the final 68-57 score.
Hunter finished with eight points in the contest, Pruitt and Anglin netted six points apiece, Rumley ended up with four, and Ray finished with two points for the Rockets, who travel to Huntland Friday night, before returning home for the Moore County make-up game, beginning at 3 p.m. in Chapel Hill.
"We will just take it one game at a time," said Horvath. "We will take it all as it comes."