Rockets tame Tigers, showdown looms with Vikings
It was erroneously reported that the Rockets needed just one win going into the Fayetteville game Tuesday to clinch the regular season district title, but in fact, Forrest needed to win versus the Tigers and beat Community Friday night in Chapel Hill.
The Rockets took care of the first order of business before the Friday night showdown with the Vikings as they trailed 34-27 at the half in Fayetteville before storming back to claim a 69-56 win.
The Rockets came up with a huge defensive effort in the third quarter, holding the high flying Tigers to just eight points in seizing the lead.
"It was a tough first half," said Forrest head coach Wes Hobbs. "We just weren't playing our game, but in the second half we tried to be a little bit more aggressive in taking it to the basket a little more and I think we saw a difference in that."
A James Keith three-point play early in the third period gave the Tigers an eight-point lead at 40-32 before Forrest turned up the heat at both ends of the floor to score ten straight and grab a two-point lead at 42-40.
Zach Horvath began the go-ahead run with a rebound and put-back, Colby Anglin followed with two free throws after a Tiger miscue, and a missed shot by the home squad led to a Lucas Pruitt bucket in the paint at the other end, cutting the Tigers' lead to 40-38.
Another forced turnover on the Tigers led to a Dakota Zimmerman basket and after a Lucas Pruitt swatted shot on Fayetteville, Marshall Hunter drilled a jumper to give the visiting Rockets the lead with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter.
A Fayetteville bucket re-knotted the contest at 42 before Mark Pope put the exclamation point on the third period with a long three-pointer to give Forrest the lead for good at 45-42, entering the final eight minutes of play.
Hunter drilled a trey to begin the fourth quarter before James Keith scored for the Tigers.
Back-to-back baskets by Tyler Rumley extended the Rockets' lead to 52-44, and moments later, after two unsuccessful Tiger touches, Rumley went downtown to put Forrest ahead by eleven.
From there, the Rockets outscored Fayetteville 14-12 the remainder of the contest to come away with the hard earned win.
"Our guys, they had to dig deep and play some tough, hard defense and they were able to step up and do that," said Hobbs.
Rumley led Forrest (19-7, 12-1) in scoring with 19 points, Horvath added a dozen, Hunter netted 11, Pope 10, Zach Ray had eight, Zimmerman put in five points, and Pruitt and Anglin ended up with two points apiece.
Keith led all scorers with 23 points in the contest, Nick Hopkins added 15 for the Tigers, Michael Parks scored 12, Aaron Parks scored four, and Ryan Yates rounded out the night's scoring with a deuce.
It all sets up the showdown with Community (18-5, 11-2) on Friday and Hobbs said about the game, "It will be nice to have the game at home. I am expecting a big crowd for us and Community will certainly bring a lot of people, so it should be a great atmosphere."