Rockets just miss big upset in Hall of Fame split
The Forrest Rockets, coming off a 60-44 opening season loss on Tuesday to Franklin, came back strong in Saturday's Hall of Fame twin bill in Chapel Hill, losing by two points 50-48 to Division II Class AA Pope John Paul II before trouncing Houston County 63-40 in the nightcap.
"That was one of the better games we have played in a while and I give all the credit to the guys," said Forrest head coach Wes Hobbs about the two-point loss to Pope John Paul II. "We had a plan going in and they believed in it and executed."
The Rockets held Knight's standout Josh Phillips, who had signed with MTSU on Wednesday to 17 points in a strong defensive effort.
"Our post guys, Lucas Pruitt and Blake Leonard played real physical and did a great job with their post player and it will not show up on the stat sheet," said Hobbs. "He is going Division I, so that was a great team defensive effort."
Meanwhile, Rocket senior Mark Pope poured in 22 points, including seven out of eleven Forrest three-pointers in the contest as the Rockets rode the downtown train early and often.
"When Pope shoots the ball well we can do a lot more around him," said Hobbs. "We are looking to get him the ball, he gets the best defender every night and even if he is covered he finds ways to get open and knock down shots. He played great today."
Forrest trailed by two points at the half 27-25 and fell behind by five after three quarters before rallying in the fourth period, but it wasn't enough to pull off the upset over the undefeated Knights.
Tyler "Juice" had 10 points (2 treys) in the game, Jacob Daughrity and Dakota Zimmerman both went downtown once and finished with five points apiece, while Lucas Pruitt scored four and Zach Horvath ended up with two markers.
In game two versus District 10A foe Houston County, Forrest got off to slow start, trailing 9-6 before baskets by Horvath and Pruitt made it 10-9 and the first period ended on a Daughrity steal and dish to Horvath for a 12-9 FHS lead after the first eight minutes.
"We seemed a little bit tired coming out of the gate and got off to a little bit of a slow start," said Hobbs. "But, we knew if we kept doing what we needed to do, we would be alright."
The Irish from Erin stayed close throughout the second quarter and trailed 22-19 late until two more Horvath buckets bookended a Caleb Keller three-bomb in a quarter ending 7-0 run by the Rockets, who built a double-digit, 29-19 margin at the half.
Pope lit the second half fuse with a long trey and the Rockets never looked back, going off on an offensive blitzkrieg to outscore Houston County 24-10 in the quarter.
Jake Townsend scored all four of his points in the fourth quarter for Forrest, while Horvath led the Rockets with 14 points.
Pope and Rumley had a dozen points apiece, Pruitt was strong in the post with eight points, Zimmerman netted four, Keller and Daughrity had one trey apiece, Kennedy Mathis ended up with two points and Blake Leonard made one free throw in the game.
Forrest (1-2) takes on intra-county rival Cornersville (0-2) on Monday in Chapel Hill with game time set for 6pm.
"That is always a fun one," said Hobbs. "That's one where you can throw the records out, because it's going to be a battle. They are a much-improved team, they really are. They have some of their young guys back from last year; have some senior leadership and a new coach that seems to be doing a good job."
The Rockets have won fourteen straight games versus the Bulldogs, dating back to Feb. 8, 2002.