Rockets blast No. 7 Cougars
The Forrest Rockets won their third consecutive district contest Tuesday night in Chapel Hill, knocking off AP Class-A No. 7 Middle Tennessee Christian School (MTCS) 67-48 in a ballgame that got very testy at the end.
"I think it says a lot to the competiveness of both teams," said Forrest head coach Wes Hobbs. "They got a little frustrated, but we did too at the end, but it just goes to show the toughness and the determination to win by both teams. It got a little out of hand in the crowd more than it did on the court."
Tyler "Juice" Rumley scored on back-to-back possessions for Forrest to kick off the contest.
MTCS would forge ahead 10-9 late on a Luke Howell bucket before Mark Pope scored with a few seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Pope scored again to start the second period, and after a Cougar missed shot, Ty Hoeft converted a three-point play, putting the Rockets up 16-10.
Moments later, Pope stole the rock from the Cougars and fed Hoeft on the run.
Hoeft went to the hoop and scored on a pretty, spinning lay-in and after being fouled, Hoeft converted again, opening up a nine-point lead.
Derrick Spears scored for the Cougars to stop the bleeding, before Pope found Hoeft for a third time for a score and foul.
Hoeft missed the free throw, but Kennedy Mathis fought for the rebound and knocked it back in, giving FHS a 23-12 lead.
Howell scored in the paint for MTCS, but back-to-back three-pointers by Rumley and Hoeft extended the Rockets' lead to 29-14, forcing a Cougar timeout with 4:51 remaining in the first half.
Forrest forced an MTCS turnover after the stoppage and Pope made them pay moments later with a jumper.
Two possessions later, Lucas Pruitt grabbed an errant MTCS pass and found Mathis over the top for basket, opening up a huge 19-point lead for the Rockets.
A small offensive surge by the Cougars at the end of the first half made it a 35-20 contest.
MTCS outscored Forrest 6-2 at the outset of the third quarter, cutting the lead to 37-26 on a Ty Hageman rebound and put-back.
After a Forrest missed shot, Dakota Zimmerman came up with a loose ball at the other end and was intentionally fouled by David Capps in what was the beginning of some rough play to come.
Zimmerman hit one of two from the line as the Rockets surged ahead by as many as 16 points before Spears hit back-to-back baskets at the end of the period, making it a 49-37 ballgame, entering the final eight minutes.
The fourth quarter was rough and tumble with all the players contesting every shot in close defensive quarters.
MTCS would manage to keep the game close, trailing by the 12-point margin until the Rockets went ahead 57-42 on a Pope basket with four and half minutes remaining in the game.
A few possessions later, MTCS missed a shot and Pope came up with the ball, but was grabbed by Spears, who was whistled for a technical foul.
Pope hit all four foul shots and things got ugly in the stands as couple of MTCS fans were escorted from the building for berating the referees.
Forrest also had the ball after the technical foul and called timeout, leading 61-42 with 3:08 left in the game.
Pope was fouled again after the stoppage and went back to free throw line where he nailed two more charity shots, putting the 19-point win on ice.
"We have had some team meetings and these seniors have decided not to go out with the way we have been playing," said Hobbs. "They came together and decided they wanted to play harder, play better, play smarter and they have done it."
With the win, Forrest (13-8) gained some ground in the District 9-A standings, evening their league record at 5-5, good enough for a fourth place tie with Fayetteville (11-8, 6-5).
MTCS (14-5, 9-2) still leads with Cascade second (14-6, 8-3) and Huntland (14-7, 7-4) in the third spot.
Forrest travels to Cascade on Friday, while MTCS plays at Fayetteville, and Huntland goes to Eagleville (10-11, 4-6).
Spears led all scorers in the game with 23 points.
Pope led the Rockets with 21 points, including an 11-15 performance from the free throw line.
"You hope your good players have that fire and he does," said Hobbs. "When Mark got challenged, he definitely stepped up."
Rumley ended up with 16 points, Hoeft had another nice game with 13 points, Zach Horvath netted a half dozen, Jacob Daughrity scored four, Zimmerman ended up with three, and Mathis and Blake Leonard each added a deuce.