Rockets scorch Cougars in 9-A semifinal match
As a coach, when you go to sleep the night before a district tournament ballgame you dream about a performance like the Forrest Rockets turned in Tuesday night versus MTCS in the District 9-A semifinals at Community.
The fourth-seeded Rockets (12-17) dominated the top-seeded Cougars (23-4) in a coast-to-coast, no doubt about it 60-40 win, catapulting the surging Chapel Hill squad to Friday night's championship game versus No. 3 Fayetteville, who knocked off the second-seeded and host Community Vikings 65-60 in the bottom portion of the bracket.
"The guys played so hard and they executed what we wanted to do perfect, we hurt them inside in the past and we wanted to try to get the ball down low early," said Hobbs. "And I saw them all making aggressive plays to try to go out and win a ballgame and that is what you have to do at tournament time, you can't just play to hang around, you have to try to win a ballgame and we did that tonight."
Fayetteville (19-9) has beaten Forrest twice this season with the average margin of victory at 13.5 points.
It was the second win of the year for the Rockets over MTCS with the triumph clinching Forrest a home game in the first round of the Region 5-A Tournament next Saturday night versus a yet to be determined opponent from District 10-A.
"That's huge, that's hosting a region game for us and we want to keep this rolling," said Hobbs.
Four players tallied in double figures for the Rockets in the contest with Blake Leonard, Ty Hoeft, and Will Edmonson all netting 10 points apiece, while Lucas Pruitt inked a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Jacob Daughrity knocked home a short bank shot to open up the scoring in the contest and Leonard made it four-zip on Forrest's next possession.
A Luke Howell bucket got the Cougars on the board before the Rockets went on a 7-0 run to take control of the first quarter.
MTCS cut the Forrest lead to five points after the first eight minutes and Derrick Spears knocked two more points off the deficit when he scored to begin the second quarter.
A Hoeft basket, a deep 3-pointer by Edmondson, and two charity shots by Hoeft accounted for another 7-0 Forrest run, putting Forrest up by double digits at 21-11 with 5:32 remaining in the first half.
The Cougars clawed back, cutting the FHS lead to four points at 25-21 on a Ben Ellenburg basket with two minutes to go, but one Daughrity free throw and a Hoeft buzzer beating, rebound and put-back extended the Rockets' lead back to seven points at the break.
Early in the third quarter the Rockets still led by seven points at 32-25 when they hit lucky sevens again, beginning with a Leonard bucket off a dish from Kennedy Mathis.
Mathis would score gain after an MTCS missed shot, putting the Rockets up by 11 points and at the other end, Mathis swatted away a Cougar shot under the glass.
The ball went to Colton Cook, who buried a three-bomb in front of the Forrest student section, igniting the Chapel Hill crowd and deflating the Cougars' faithful on the other side, who saw their team down by 14 points.
The Rockets took a 46-33 lead into the final eight minutes and wasted little time putting the game away as they went up by 17 points with six minutes to go before the frustration began to build for the Cougars and fouls became plentiful due to rough play by both squads over the next several minutes.
A Daughrity three-pointer and Lucas Pruitt basket were the only two field goals made by the Rockets in the fourth quarter as they lived on the free-throw line, making nine out of 16 foul shots to seal the 20-point win.
Daughrity had a great ball handling night and scored nine points for the Rockets, while Cook ended up with four and Mathis came up deuces wild.
Spears was the only Cougar player in double figures, tying Pruitt for game high scoring honors with 16 points.
Another title try
Friday's title tilt will be Hobbs' second attempt to capture the championship plaque as the Rockets lost 49-42 to MTCS in the 2011-2012 title game.
"I don't think they are finished, they are ready for Friday and I love their enthusiasm towards that," said Hobbs. "They are hungry, they are excited about it and we will continue to work hard in practice and try to get it done."
Forrest's last district tournament title came in 2009-2010 when former coach Davy McClaran's squad routed arch rival Cascade 52-32.