Rockets claim district opener
In a spirited District 9A opener Friday night in Chapel Hill, the Forrest Rockets (6-3) outlasted Moore County 52-48.
"We knew coming in that they were a much-improved team from last year, coach King does a great job getting them ready to play every night," said Forrest head coach Wes Hobbs. "We'll take a win. Any time you can get a win in this crazy district, we'll take it for sure."
Zach Horvath sparked the Rockets in the first quarter, scoring all 13 of his points in the contest in the opening period for a 17-12 Forrest lead.
The Raiders clawed their way back into the game in the second quarter, eventually taking the lead at 23-22 on a Dalton Barrier basket with just under three minutes to go in the period.
Ty Hoeft answered the Barrier bucket with a three-pointer, giving the Rockets a 25-23 lead, but Dillon Davis tied the game up at 25, nailing both ends of a one and one with a few seconds remaining in the first half.
The Raiders jumped out quickly in the third quarter on a Ben Harvey bucket, followed by a Barrier long bomb to take a 30-25 lead.
Dakota Zimmerman got the Rockets going with a basket to begin a 12-0 Forrest run, highlighted by seven points from Mark Pope, including a three-pointer.
"The difference there was we were able to get a few stops on the defensive end," said Hobbs.
Rockets warm up
Barrier broke the Forrest run with a late trey, making it 37-33 before Pope and Tyler Rumley scored on back-to-back trips at the end of the stanza to push the Rockets in front 41-33.
Pope scored early in the fourth period and moments later, Rumley hit two free throws, giving the Rockets their biggest lead of the game at 45-33.
At the other end of the floor, Harvey scored for the Raiders to make it a 10-point game at 45-35.
Both teams went ice cold with no scoring until the 2:13 mark of the contest when Barrier drilled another three-pointer to make it 45-38 and Raider head coach Lavon King called a timeout.
After the stoppage, Forrest turned the ball over and Harvey nailed two free throws, cutting the Rockets' lead to five points.
Pope missed the front end of one and one moments later and Cole Boyce scored in the paint for Moore County, slicing the Forrest lead to 45-42 with 1:30 remaining in the contest.
The Raiders had the ball after a Forrest missed shot with 58 seconds left and King called timeout again.
Pope spoiled the Raiders' plan when he swiped the rock after the Moore County timeout and in the final 43 seconds, Pope would go 5-6 from the foul line to put the game away.
Pope would lead all scorers in the contest with 20 points, Horvath finished with 13, Rumley added seven, and Hoeft, Zimmerman and Lucas Pruitt all scored four points apiece.
J.P. Robinson and Barrier scored 13 points for the Raiders, while Harvey finished with a dozen.
"They play even better at home, so as hard as the game was here, it will be even tougher when we go over there," said Hobbs. "We will have to really prepare for that one because coach King will be ready for us when we go over there."
Santa Fe falls
On Saturday night, the Rockets made it two wins in a row with an easy 57-40 win over Santa Fe in Chapel Hill.
A big 21-point first quarter gave the Rockets all the breathing room they would need as Horvath scored a game high 18 points, while Pope had 12, Jacob Daughrity scored seven, Pruitt and Zimmerman scored four points apiece and Hoeft added three.
Forrest will not be back in action until Friday when they travel to Huntland.