Warriors foil Forrest for third straight year
My mother used to tell me things always come in threes and old Mom was right again as the Forrest Rockets took it to the limit Tuesday night in East Robertson before losing 57-51 to McEwen in the second round of the Region 5-A Tournament, marking the third year in a row the Rockets have been eliminated by the Warriors.
"The guys played their guts out," said Forrest head coach Wes Hobbs. "I think everybody in the stands can be proud of, I know I am. I told them I would choose them to coach a million times. Both teams played hard and both teams played well."
Free throws were the difference in the ballgame with Forrest on the short end of a lopsided 32-13 charity shots attempted in the contest with 20 of McEwen's tosses coming in the pivotal fourth quarter.
"It goes back to a lack of free throws as well," said Hobbs. "We didn't hit some free throws when we needed to and they did. We ran in to a good team tonight and they hit the free throws when they needed to and hit the shots when they needed to."
The Warriors took advantage of the disparity, canning 25 out of the 32 attempts, while the Rockets made 6 of 13 on the night.
The Rockets went up 4-0 early on a pair of driving lay-ups by senior Colby Anglin, and after a Garrett Mullinicks bucket for McEwen, Mark Pope took one down the lane for two points.
The Warriors used the Mullinicks connection to take the lead at 7-6 as Garrett scored on a three-point play in the paint and Patrick also scored down low to give McEwen their first lead of the game.
With the game tied at eight late in the quarter, Patrick Mullinicks and Tyler "Juice" Rumley traded treys for an 11-11 game after the first eight minutes.
Pope drilled a long bomb to begin period number two, sparking the Rockets off to a 10-2 run that ended on a Lucas Pruitt bucket to make it 21-13, forcing a McEwen timeout with 2:56 remaining in the first half.
The Warriors bowed up and came back with six straight points before the Rockets scored on a single Pope free throw with 12 seconds left in the half as Forrest maintained a 22-19 lead, entering period number three.
Patrick Mullinicks departed the locker room after halftime on fire with a bucket in the paint, and after a Forrest missed shot, Mullinicks drilled a long three-pointer from the corner to give the Warriors a 24-22 lead.
Senior Marshall Hunter responded with a three-pointer for Forrest to seesaw the lead back to the Rockets and that would be the way it would go for much of the period until the Warriors eased their way out to a 33-27 lead with 1:45 remaining.
A Pope field-goal plus two free throws, bookended a Garrett Mullinicks basket and the Rockets trailed 35-31 with just the final eight minutes to play in season for one of the two teams.
Rocket senior postman Zach Ray scored on a traditional three-point play to begin the fourth quarter to cut the margin to a single point, but at the other end, Blaine Hooper hit a neo three to reopen the four point lead for McEwen.
An Anglin drive to the dish made it 38-36, and after a Warrior miscue, Dakota Zimmerman flipped in a left-handed basket in the lane to tie the contest at 42 with 5:30 remaining in the game.
McEwen fought right back with a 6-1 mini run to take a 44-39 lead before three points from Pruitt sliced the Warriors' lead back to two points at 44-41.
The Humphreys County school would move away again at 47-42, but Hunter came up with a huge three-bomb with 1:02 remaining in the contest to make it 47-45.
After a Forrest timeout, Pope was called on questionable intentional foul, fighting for a loose ball and Garrett Mullinicks would hit one of two free shots on the Pope foul.
McEwen was also awarded the ball and TJ Long was fouled and made one of two from the charity stripe to make it a two-possession ballgame at 49-45 with less than a minute to play.
Rumley scored on a rebound and put-back for the Rockets and then stole the ball and raced down court with a chance to tie, but his pull-up jumper was no good.
Hooper made two more free throws at the other end, but Rumley responded with a jumper from the wing and Forrest called timeout with 27 seconds left.
From there, Garrett Mullinicks was huge from the free throw line, making all six of his attempts to seal the win for the Warriors (28-1), who will face District 9-A Tournament champion MTCS (17-14) in the region title game Thursday night in East Robertson at 7 p.m.