Overtime win sends FMS to World Tournament final
The FMS Lady Rockets are one climb away from completing their trek to reach the top of world after a thrilling 32-29 overtime win over Middle Tennessee Christian School (MTCS) Thursday night in Chapel Hill in the semifinals of the Duck River Valley Conference Tournament.
The seventh seeded Lady Rockets (6-10) quest to reach the summit has now included wins over the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in Cascade and MTCS, respectively.
"They are really playing with heart right now, they really want it, they want to win," said FMS head coach Rhea Webb. "Our girls stayed focused and played as a team, everybody is playing their roles and they are coming together."
MTCS' Abby Buckner opened up the scoring in the ballgame before FMS tied it on two free throws by Katie Harmon, followed by back-to-back steal and scores by Brynn Colvin and Kyleah Hengesbach, giving the Lady Rockets the lead.
Lady Cougar standout Cammie Adams, who led all scorers in the contest with 19 points, bookended baskets between a Caitlyn McKenzie bucket in the paint, cutting the FMS lead to 8-6.
A last second jumper by Emma Stacey gave FMS a four-point lead after one quarter and the Lady Rockets would increase their margin to six points at 16-10 midway through the second quarter before MTCS came back to trail by three points at the half, 16-13.
On the second half inbounds play at midcourt, Adams scored over the top, proceeded to block a shot at the other end, and scored again to give the Lady Cougars the lead at 17-16, forcing Webb to call timeout.
"We came out a little slow in the beginning of the second half and that put us behind and we had to catch up," said Rhea.
Moments later, Tamia Northcutt scored the only basket in the third period for Forrest to re-take the lead before the Lady Cougars, behind a basket by Kaylah Taylor and one free throw by Adams seized a 22-18 lead after three quarters of play.
An Adams three-pointer began the fourth period, giving MTCS their biggest lead of the game at 25-18.
A couple of touches later, Hengesbach muscled in a basket in the paint, and after a Northcutt steal, Harmon drilled an ice-cold three-pointer with 2:55 remaining in the contest to make it a one-point game at 25-24.
47 seconds would tick away with no scoring by either squad until Colvin nailed a short jumper to give the Lady Rockets a 26-25 lead.
With 38.4 seconds remaining in the game, Buckner fouled out, but FMS could not convert a one and one situation from the free throw line, giving MTCS new life and with 11 seconds left in the game, Taylor tied it up when she hit one of two from the line.
"She (Buckner) is their ball handler and everything revolves around her, so we were trying our best to take her out of the ballgame," said Webb.
Harmon was fouled on the inbounds play, but could not convert from the free throw line with 1.3 seconds left.
Forrest got the ball again when MTCS could not handle the rebound, but a last second shot by Colvin was off the mark and the game went to overtime.
Adams converted on the first possession of the overtime session and moments later, Adams made it a three-point game at 29-26 when she hit the front end of a one and one opportunity.
"We were tired and we were losing focus there," said Webb. "But, I knew if we could just calm down and everybody get their heads straight, we would be OK."
Two possessions later, Hengesbach went to the line for a one and one, but could not convert.
Northcutt came up with the defensive play of the game when she swiped the ball and raced in for a layup, making it a 29-28 ballgame with 1:24 left in the overtime period.
The Lady Cougars coughed the ball up and Webb called timeout with 52.4 seconds remaining.
After the stoppage, Colvin hit the go-ahead jumper from the left wing and the Lady Cougars missed at their chance to tie or go ahead at the other end.
Adams would pick up her fifth foul when she hacked Hengesbach with 16.5 seconds left and Hengesbach found nothing but the bottom of the net on both free throws, giving FMS a 32-29 lead.
"I knew she could do it, I told her to take a breath and it was hers to make," said Webb.
MTCS turned the ball over as FMS swarmed to the ball, but the Lady Rockets gave it right back.
A last ditch shot by MTCS went awry and the final buzzer sounded, sending the Forrest faithful into a frenzy and the Lady Rockets into the championship game.
Forrest has the highest peak to scale when they take on top-seeded Moore County (14-2) Saturday night at 5:30 p.m. in the World Tournament title game.
"They want it, they want it bad, they are really excited," said Webb. "We've split with them. We beat them here and they beat us on their home floor, so I think we have the advantage over them and we really want it bad."
The Lady Rockets' last World Tournament title was in 2005, under the tutelage of former Shelbyville great and current assistant coach Sherry Jones Mounce.
Hengesbach led FMS in the scoring column with 11 points, while Northcutt and Colvin finished with a half dozen points apiece.
Harmon ended up with five points and Stacey and McKenzie both netted a deuce.
Buckner scored seven points for MTCS and Taylor finished with three markers.