Rockets struggle in District 9-A opener

Friday, December 5, 2014
Jesse Pruitt (4) muscles in a low-post bucket for the Rockets. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

Forrest did not take care of the basketball in Tuesday night's District 9-A home opener versus Eagleville, turning the ball over a myriad of times to the Eagles, who seemed to take advantage of every Rockets' miscue on their way to a 49-35 win.

"The most frustrating part of the night was when we were able to set up our half-court defense, they didn't score on us very often," said Forrest head coach Wes Hobbs. "The largest majority of their points came from easy baskets or transition threes after turnovers. Holding a team to 49 points when we had 20-plus turnovers and shot very poorly in the first half is an accomplishment to build on, but we will never be satisfied with the overall performance tonight."

Handing it over

Six first-quarter turnovers by the Rockets led to all 12 of Eagleville's points in the period, while Forrest struggled on offense as well, scoring just four points in the quarter.

The second period did not get any better for Forrest as they gave the ball up three times early in the stanza and it led to two free throws made by Brandon Petrig, a 3-pointer by Logan Baker, and a Carson Rudd bucket in the paint, putting the Rockets in a deep 19-4 hole.

Will Edmonson finally got the Rockets on the board with a steal and score with five and a half minutes remaining in the first half, but the turnover bug would not go away for Forrest.

Eagleville capitalized on four more Forrest miscues, extending their lead to 24-6 until a Jacob Jones bucket broke the streak, but the Eagles had the last laugh of the half when Petrig drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer, making it a 27-8 contest.

"During the first half, we kept making the same mistakes over and over again and they did a great job of forcing us into bad spots on the floor and trapping us with their size," said Hobbs. "Most of the turnovers came back to fundamentals, pass faking, dribbling with our off hands, and making fast decisions. Our inexperience really showed tonight and a timeout during the first half wasn't long enough to fix our problems."

Second half

Eagleville would start the second half with four straight points before Blake Leonard scored in the low post for Forrest.

Brandon Kelley and Edmonson traded treys and an Eagleville miscue led to a Jesse Pruitt bucket in the post before both squads went ice-cold from the field.

One free throw is all the Eagles could manage over a four-minute stretch, but the Rockets could not take advantage and did not score until Leonard banged in a bucket in the paint on the final possession of the third quarter.

Will Edmonson (24) drains one of his two fourth-quarter 3-pointers for the Rockets, who lost their District 9-A home opener to Eagleville Tuesday night in Chapel Hill.

Forrest showed some life to begin the final eight minutes as Austin Bailey scored on a rebound and put-back and Edmonson scored four points on two ensuing Eagleville turnovers, making it a 37-25 game, forcing an Eagles' timeout with 5:24 remaining in the game.

"During halftime, we regrouped, talked about being more mentally tough and discussed better placement on the floor to break the traps," said Hobbs. "The guys responded and we were able to get some players in position to score during the second half."

Edmonson sandwiched two more three-balls around an Eagleville basket, cutting the deficit to 10 points with 2:44 left in the contest.

A Calen Parker three-bomb out of a Forrest timeout squelched any hope of a Rockets' comeback, who fell to 3-5 on the season.

Edmonson was the lone Rocket in double figures in the game with 12 points, while Leonard scored six, Bailey had five, Pruitt netted four, and Noah Rumley, Korbin Brown, Caleb Hogan, and Jones all added a deuce apiece.

"Moving forward we will obviously work on trap and press break and being in the correct spots on the floor, plus we will continue to work on ball handling and mentally handling pressure," said Hobbs. "It is the easiest to identify weaknesses when they are exposed, so this game will give us good motivation to work on fixing many of the problems that are holding us back."

Parker led Eagleville (4-3) in the scoring column with 19 points, while Kelley and Petrig added eight points apiece, Baker and Rudd had six points each, and Eric Hawks scored two points.