Phifer game winner sinks Huntland

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Forrest's Hannah Phifer (35) hits the game winning lay-up with 3.2 seconds remaining in the Lady Rockets' 53-51 win versus Huntland Friday night in Chapel Hill. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest Lady Rockets, coming off a 40-point shellacking at Moore County, righted the ship at home Friday night, coming away with a thrilling 53-51 win over Huntland.

"That must have been a good game to watch, but it was pretty tough from where I was," said Forrest head coach Jeremy Jean. "It' been a long four days of practice, but they were ready to play tonight and we came away with the win."

Forrest was in the driver's seat most of the night, never trailing the Lady Hornets by more than four points in the contest, while holding a 10-point lead midway through the fourth period until some last second heroics by Hannah Phifer was needed to seal the deal.

With the win, Forrest (9-13, 5-4) remained in the chase for one of the top four spots in the league standings with the reward coming in form of a first round satellite home game in the first round of the District 9-A Tournament.

"It keeps us to where we can stay in the top four," said Jean. "If we win out, we can get third hands down no tiebreaker, and with some help we can get second, so we just have to take care of what we can take care of."

The remainder of the district tournament will be played at Motlow State and the Region 5-A Tournament is slated for Eagleville.

Senior Lady Rocket guard Tayler Andrews, who has been in the injury re-hab mode for most of the season, is beginning to round back into form at just the perfect time for Forrest and she drilled a three-pointer off the opening tip to set the tone for the Chapel Hill girls.

Huntland would inch out in front at 8-5 before Kirston Holder tied the game with a trey midway through the stanza.

Huntland's Alexis Smith, who led all scorers in the contest with 24 points, traded a pair of baskets with Hannah Evans late in the period, making it 12-12.

After another Smith bucket in the low post, Phifer drained a long three-bomb with 40 seconds left, giving Forrest a 15-14 lead after the first eight minutes.

Scarlett Roberson (15) had a big night for the Lady Rockets as the senior came through with 10 points, including eight in the pivotal fourth period.

Forrest would enjoy a four-point lead early in the second quarter and Huntland edged ahead by four late, until Savannah Brothers and Evans scored on back-to-back trips down the floor at the end of the first half, knotting the game at 24.

Huntland eked their way to a 29-25 lead with three minutes to go in period number three before the Lady Rockets hit six consecutive free throws (four by Brothers and two by Andrews) to inch in front 31-29 with 1:22 remaining in the quarter and Huntland in a timeout.

After the stoppage, the Lady Rockets added four unanswered points on a consecutive offensive rebounds and put-backs by Phifer and Brothers, taking a 35-29 lead into the final eight minutes of play.

After a Scarlett Roberson three-bomb with four minutes to play in the game gave Forrest a 10-point lead at 45-35, Huntland dug in for the comeback, outscoring the home team 14-4 to tie the game at 49 when Smith hit both ends of a one and one situation with 49.5 seconds remaining in the contest.

Holder scored on a driving lay-up after the Smith free throws, making it 51-49 and forcing another Huntland timeout with 27.1 seconds left.

The Lady Hornets went back to their bread and butter for another Smith basket in the paint and the Lady Rockets called timeout with 11.7 seconds remaining in the final period.

After the stoppage, Brothers had the ball, surveying the court before passing to a wide open Phifer in the paint for the game winning lay-up with 3.2 seconds left.

"That was a great play by Brothers and Phifer, just playing basketball," said Jean. "It was a great pass and a clutch shot."

Huntland called time with 1.3 ticks left, but could not get off a shot and the game ended.

Brothers and Roberson led the Lady Rockets in the scoring column with 10 points apiece, while Evans and Phifer both netted nine points.

Andrews and Holder scored five points apiece, Amanda Chumbley chipped in with three points and Caitlyn Yost added a deuce.