Spears shot seals Forrest's fate
After a convincing 65-50 win by the MTCS Lady Cougars over host Forrest in the opener of a Saturday night makeup twin bill, drama was at its highest when Cougar standout Derrick Spears nailed a fade-away beauty at the buzzer, lifting Middle Tennessee Christian School over the Rockets 42-40.
Spears' game winner came just 14 seconds after Rocket junior Blake Leonard tied the game on a bruising three-point play in the paint.
With the score knotted at 19, Leonard scored in the paint and Kennedy Mathis followed with a short jumper in the lane.
MTCS's Ben Brown and Rocket Colton Cook traded free throws before Brown went downtown for three points and David Capps followed with a basket in the lane that gave the Cougars a 25-24 lead.
Forrest turned the ball over out of a timeout with 1:31 left in the stanza and Brown scored again.
Leonard came back with a single free throw for the Rockets, but Spears scored to end the third period, giving the Cougars a 29-25 lead.
Forrest stayed close, eventually pulling to within three points at 33-30 on a Leonard basket before MTCS surged ahead.
The Rockets chipped away at the MTCS lead until Lucas Pruitt made it a three-point game on a free throw with 43.8 seconds remaining.
The Rockets fouled the Cougars, who let Forrest remain alive when they missed the front end of a one and one.
After the miss, Leonard snatched a rebound at the other end and muscled it home while being hacked with 14.1 seconds left.
Leonard calmly drained the game-tying free throw.
The Cougars worked the ball to a well-defended Spears, who tilted back for the fade-away toss that came down right in the bottom of the net.
With the win, the Cougars (19-2, 7-1) climbed atop the District 9 standings, one game clear of Community (13-7, 7-2) and Fayetteville (12-7, 7-2) and two games ahead of the Rockets (7-14, 4-3).
Leonard finished with a game-high 18 points while Pruitt added nine, Mathis netted six, Jacob Daughrity scored four points, Will Edmondson had two, and Cook ended up with a single free throw for the Rockets.
Spears finished with 16 points for MTCS, Bryson Crear had 11, Brown scored nine points, Capps added four and Luke Howell came up with a deuce.
In the nightcap, the Lady Rockets lost 65-50, suffering a second consecutive season sweep by the Lady Cougars.
Forrest led five times in the first quarter, including 12-10 on a late Caitlyn Yost bucket, but a three-point play by Ashlund Wilkerson with a few ticks left gave MTCS a 13-12 lead.
Early in the second quarter, a Savannah Brothers basket tied the game at 15 before the Lady Cougars went on an 8-2 run, taking a 23-17 lead with 2:58 remaining in the first half.
Brothers cut the margin in half with a three-point play on a drive to the hoop and one possession later, Margaret Bryan hit two free throws to pull Forrest to within a point of the lead.
MTCS led at the half 23-22.
Yost put the Lady Rockets in front 24-23 on two free throws to begin the third quarter and Forrest held on to the lead at 32-30 on a Hannah Evans bucket before the bottom fell out.
The Lady Cougars scored eight straight points, including a 3-pointer by Wilkerson that gave MTCS a 38-32 lead.
Yost stopped the bleeding with a trey, but it was just momentary as MTCS scored the last five points of the period to take a 43-35 lead.
The Lady Cougars outscored the home squad 22-15 in the final quarter.
Wilkerson led all scorers with 26, including a 6-12 performance from the free-throw line and two 3-pointers.
MTCS (21-37) shot 37 foul shots, 20 more than Forrest (10-17) did.
Yost led the Lady Rockets with 19 points, while the freshman made two treys and hit three out of four from the charity stripe.
Brothers was right behind Yost with 18 points, nailing two 3-pointers and going 3-7 from the free-throw line.
Bryan and Evans ended up with four points apiece, while Kirston Holder added three and Kyleah Hengesbach notched a deuce.