Rockets beat Raiders in 9-A clash
The Forrest Rockets busted their four-game losing streak Friday night, beating District 9A foe Moore County 56-52 in Chapel Hill.
"It is always good to win a district game and get some positive momentum moving forward," said Forrest head coach Wes Hobbs. "I felt with the way we played this past week that we were getting closer to having some success, but the win tonight gave the guys some validation for their hard work. Moore County is a quality opponent and was already 2-1 in our district, so knocking them off at home was an important step in where we want to be."
Moore County took the opening tip before Forrest freshman Noah Rumley took the ball away and raced in for a layup.
Ryan Northcutt scored for Moore County before Jacob Jones nailed a 3-pointer, putting Forrest in front 5-2, but the Raiders outscored the Rockets 12-2 the remainder of the first period to take a 14-7 lead after the first eight minutes.
Moore County held firm and led 22-16 late in the first half when the Rockets made their move, beginning with a low post bucket by Blake Leonard.
After a Moore County missed shot, Will Edmonson knocked home a rebound, cutting the Raiders' lead to four points.
Edmonson would score again with 24 seconds left and after a Moore County offensive foul, Edmonson tied the game at 22 with two free throws after being fouled with 1.6 seconds left.
"At halftime, we had to once again make some adjustments because Moore County starts and plays quite a few seniors and the press and trap wasn't really bothering those experienced players," said Hobbs. "Therefore, we decided to go back with just a solid man to man defense and make them take tough shots."
After a James Dougherty basket gave the Raiders a 28-26 lead, the Rockets took off on a 7-2 run as they turned up the defensive pressure, while going hard to the glass.
Leonard and Colton Cook knocked home rebounds and Edmonson hit one free throw after being fouled on a drive to the hoop before Donovan Murray tallied the final two points of the spurt when he converted both ends of a one-and-one opportunity from the charity stripe.
Moore County would come back to tie the game on a 3-pointer and two free throws by Northcutt, but the Rockets would score the final four points in the period on a Leonard basket and a drive and score by Austin Bailey, taking a four-point 37-33 lead in to the final eight minutes.
Forrest increased their lead to seven points early in the stanza, but the Raiders were not done, coming back to cut the FHS lead to three points with 3:12 remaining in the contest.
Strong at the line
Leonard and Edmonson came up big from the free throw line, hitting four out four and with a minute and half to go in the game, before Murray stuck in the dagger with long range corner 3-bomb, making it 50-41.
The Rockets let up a little as the Raiders cut the lead to four points, but Forrest was able to hold on, gaining a much needed win.
"We were far from perfect when it came to closing out that game as we made several mistakes that we can learn from," said Hobbs. "It is always better to get to learn from mistakes after a win, then if we would have given up the lead."
Edmonson continued his fine play on the season, scoring a game-high 25 points in the contest. Leonard ended up with a dozen points, Jones had a half dozen, Murray finished with five points, Cook added four, and Baily and Rumley finished with a deuce.
Forrest (4-8, 1-2) has two district games this week versus Community and Fayetteville before travelling to Cascade on Saturday for a non-league match-up with the Champions.
"Moving forward, we have to understand that this is a process as our young players are gaining more confidence and experience, but we have to keep working to improve," said Hobbs. "We are nowhere close to where we want to be as a team, but I think we are taking some steps in the right direction."