Lady Rockets sweep Thanksgiving Tournament

Monday, December 1, 2014
Savannah Brothers (21) bangs home a 3-pointer versus Summit on Friday as the Lady Rockets won all three games at the Forrest Thanksgiving Tournament. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

After a big 58-39 win over Franklin County on Wednesday, the Forrest Lady Rockets followed with a pair of wins over Summit on Friday and Mt. Pleasant on Saturday, finishing the sweep of the Forrest Thanksgiving Tournament in Chapel Hill.

"Going 3-0 is a good feeling, it's the first time we haven't lost a game at our own tournament," said Forrest head coach Jeremy Jean. "We beat two solid and athletic AAA teams and a much improving Mt. Pleasant team."

Great run

With the turkey trifecta, the Lady Rockets have won five in a row and six out of seven to begin the season, their best start since 2009-2010 when they came out of the box smoking on the way to a 27-5 record.

December denotes the beginning of an even tougher schedule for the Lady Rockets, who will play five important district games, plus will face Collinwood, Summertown, and Cascade in non-league action before the Christmas break.

"Five wins in a row is good but if we don't make it six on Tuesday (Eagleville), those five don't matter," said Jean. "Starting district play is really going to see what we are made of. We start off with Eagleville, who beat us on our own floor last year. We have to come out with tremendous focus every game, every possession. We have to play great team defense, and continue to play our game. If we do those things, we have a really good chance to win all of the games."

Forrest had to play catch-up on Friday night versus a tough Summit squad, falling behind 17-13 late in the first quarter before they got hot, beginning with a pair of free throws by Hannah Evans.

Ahead to stay

Savannah Brothers, who led all scorers in the contest with 13 points, banged home a 3-pointer and after a rebound and put-back by Summit's Kylie Hicks, Caitlin Yost went downtown near the first quarter buzzer to put the Lady Rockets in the lead for good.

The Lady Spartans would continue to nip on Forrest's heels, slicing the margin to a single digit at 27-26 late in the period on a 3-pointer by Zacharyia Esmon.

Forrest got a big boost off the bench from Tamia Northcutt, who banged home a 3-pointer and the first half scoring would end on a Brothers drive the hoop for two, giving the hometown girls a 32-26 lead.

Margaret Bryan scored on a set play for Forrest and Brothers went downtown again early in the third quarter, opening up a double-digit lead at 37-26.

Hannah Evans (5) scores in the low post for the Lady Rockets in their 56-37 win over Summit.

With 4:40 remaining in the stanza, Olivia Colson scored for Summit before the Lady Rockets put the game away.

Bryan began the dagger run with a basket and Yost scored before Bryan knocked in a rebound and put-back, making it 43-28.

After a Summit missed shot, Evans scored in the low post, forcing a Lady Spartan timeout with 1:59 left in the period.

20-point lead

After the stoppage, Summit failed to score and the third quarter ended in style as Sierra Waggoner rained home a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, extending Forrest's lead to 20 points, entering the final eight minutes.

Forrest played hard until the final whistle, putting the cap on the 19-point win as Yost scored 11 points, Kyleah Hengesbach scored nine, Evans and Bryan had eight points apiece, Northcutt finished with four, and Waggoner had the one trey for three points.

On Saturday night, Forrest once again fell behind early before rallying to a relatively easy 48-31 win over Mt. Pleasant.

"Mt. Pleasant jumped out on us 7-1 Saturday because we came out flat and they were ready to play us," said Jean. "The girls rallied together after that to pull away with a good win. We got a chance to play everyone, and that is always a good thing because those girls work hard and have a great attitude."

Tamia Northcutt (15) has been big off the bench this year for the Lady Rockets, who have won six out of seven games to start the season.

Top scorer

Brothers led the way in the scoring column once again, pouring in a game-high 18 points, including three treys.

Evans and Yost added eight points apiece, while freshman Katey Harmon scored five, Bryan added four points, freshman Emma Stacey banged home one 3-pointer, and Waggoner rounded out the scoring with a deuce.

"During the five-game stretch we have been knocking down some shots that we weren't earlier and I think that is because we are playing extremely unselfish, giving up a good shot for a great shot," said Jean. "And that's contagious, it makes more shots go in. But the biggest key is our defense and taking care of the ball, giving up only 33 points per game and committing 10 turnovers a game."

In the opening win over Franklin County, Yost led the way in the scoring column with 15 points (5-8 FT), Hengesbach had a dozen (4-6 FT), Waggoner netted 10, Brothers added 9 (trey, 4-5 FT), Evans etched a half dozen (4-6 FT), Bryan scored four, and Northcutt ended up with a deuce.