Rockets hold off Champions
After trailing at the half, the Forrest Rockets came on strong to finish the season sweep over Cascade in a 60-49 win in Chapel Hill Friday night, putting them two wins away from securing back-to-back District 9-A regular season titles.
FHS first-year head coach Wes Hobbs said after the game, "I give all the credit to the guys. From the summer when I jumped on board, they worked hard and I feel like you always hope to get better. And I feel like we are and we have, and hopefully we can just keep it rolling."
After the game, Forrest learned that the Community Vikings, who had entered the night tied with the Rockets for first place, was upset by Moore County 58-47 in Lynchburg.
A win at Fayetteville on Tuesday and at home versus the Vikings on Friday will give Hobbs and the Rockets the crown, plus the number one seed at the upcoming district tournament.
Forrest trailed 12-5 after one period and fell behind by as much as 12 points in the second quarter at 25-13 before a Tyler Rumley three-pointer, one free throw from Zach Horvath, and a Zach Ray bucket in the paint as time wound down in the first half made it a six-point contest at the intermission.
"We definitely started off slow tonight," said Hobbs. "I think part of that could be we get hyped, ready to go and then the girls' game went double overtime. We were obviously happy for them that they pulled out the win, but we had to wait and wait."
Cascade took the 25-19 lead into the third period, but it evaporated quickly as the Rockets scored the first seven points of the second half to take a one-point, 26-25 lead with 5:59 remaining in the quarter.
"We tried to make some adjustments at the half and the guys really bought into it," said Hobbs. "Especially at the start of the second half when we mixed in some presses that I think kind of changed the momentum and got the crowd into it."
The Forrest scoring went Horvath in the paint, Ray on a tip-in, a Horvath free throw, and the go-ahead bucket by Horvath.
Cascade would momentarily re-gain the lead on a Jesse Barnes basket before the Rockets kicked in the boosters to outscore the Champions 20-15 the rest of the quarter to seize the lead at 46-40, entering the final eight minutes.
Cascade looked like they were in for the long haul when Anthony Marable and Blake Floyd scored on back-to-back buckets to begin the fourth quarter, slicing the Forrest lead to two-points at 46-44.
Over the next two minutes, the only points scored in the game were single free throws by Lucas Pruitt and Horvath, before Ray scored in the paint with just over three minutes to go in the contest, giving the Rockets a half dozen point lead at 50-44.
After a Cascade timeout with 3:49 left, Colby Anglin hit both ends of a one and one situation from the free throw line, and after a Champions' brick at the other end, Marshall Hunter drilled a jumper to make it a double-digit FHS lead at 54-44.
Floyd would throw down a three-bomb for Cascade to break the Forrest streak, but from there, the Rockets outscored their archrivals from Wartrace 6-2 to end the contest and gain the victory.
"Our guys are tough," said Hobbs. "They have been here, they know how to win, they just refuse to lose and want to play as hard as they can every night, and with guys like that it makes it fun to coach."
Forrest was led in the scoring column by Ray, who scored 14 points.
Horvath netted 13 (7-10 from the free throw line), Hunter ended up with 11, Rumley scored 9, Pope 8, Anglin 3, and Pruitt and Jacob Daughrity finished with one point apiece.
Barnes was high man for Cascade with 15 points, Marable finished with 11, Floyd netted 10, Jake Pimental ended up with nine, and Will Holt rounded out the scoring with three points.