Rockets outgun Wildcats in Classic

Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Forrest center (32) Blake Leonard, shown here against Giles County, scored a game high 23 points to help lead the Rockets to an 83-74 win over Tullahoma. Tribune photo by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

After dropping a hard fought 73-66 decision to Giles County the previous day, the Forrest Rockets (6-11) earned a split at the Richland Christmas Classic by defeating the Tullahoma Wildcats 83-74 last Tuesday in Lynnville.

The Rockets got off to a fast start offensively and built a 46-36 lead through the first two quarters of play before keeping Tullahoma at bay in the second half to claim their sixth victory of the year.

Chance to grow

"I was pleased with how we played in the tournament. I think we got better and playing bigger schools was good for us because it helps us get ready for District competition. That's what these tournaments are for," said Forrest coach Wes Hobbs.

Although the Wildcats (2-13) finished with a 27-22 advantage in field goals and held an 11-7 edge in three-pointers, the Rockets cashed in at the foul line and outscored Tullahoma 32-9 at the charity stripe while attempting 31 more free throws (49-18) overall.

Center Blake Leonard has his way in the paint against the Wildcats and led four FHS players in double figures with a game high 23 points.

"Blake really stepped up in the post. We got the ball to him in the paint and he also scored some in transition. Tullahoma got in some foul trouble and he was able to exploit some mismatches inside," said Hobbs.

Scoring

Will Edmonson followed Leonard with 19 points, while Donovan Murray and Colton Cook tallied 13 points apiece. Austin Bailey added five points as well, and Noah Rumley and Jesse Pruitt both chipped in three points. Korbin Brown and Caleb Hogan also scored two points each for the Rockets.

Dominick Sanchez drained three treys and paced Tullahoma with 16 points. Jake Crabtree notched 13 points as well and Brandon Johnson added 12 points. Chase Willis also tallied nine points, while Alex Williams and Zack Lovvern had eight points apiece. Luke Mitchell and Nick Barstad rounded out the scoring for the Wildcats with six and two points respectively.

Forrest showed they could handle Tullahoma's frenetic full court pressure at the start of the game and jumped out to a 23-19 lead in the first quarter on the strength of a Rumley three-pointer and eight points apiece from Edmonson and Leonard.

Handling 'press'ure

"I've been really happy with how our team has improved against the press. We've been working on our press lately and that's helped us when we get pressed because we know where our spots on the floor should be," said Hobbs.

The Rockets continued to pad their lead in the second period and outscored the Wildcats 23-17 in the stanza behind 11 points from Cook, seven points from Edmonson, and a Murray trey to open up a 46-36 advantage at the break.

Tullahoma then trimmed to the deficit to 63-54 at the end of the third quarter, but Forrest played the Wildcats even in the fourth period with the help of nine points from Leonard to claim the 83-74 win.