Lady Rockets sparkle in clutch
After a week on a downward spiral, the Forrest Lady Rockets took a big turn upwards, coming away with a hard fought 65-59 win over No. 7 ranked Middle Tennessee Christian School (MTCS) Tuesday night in Chapel Hill.
"Tonight we stayed together, we came out swinging like we needed to and played smart," said Forrest head coach Jeremy Jean. "It is all the little things that got us to fifteen wins, but we forgot about those last week and that falls on me, but we are going to get after it the rest of the season."
In a senior laden effort, Hannah Evans sparked the Lady Rockets with 17 points, including six in a first quarter that set the tone for Forrest, who led 17-7 after the end of the period.
"After those two losses we felt we were better than this and we needed to step it up and play Forrest basketball like we can," said Evans. "We had some talks and some intense practices to get things changed."
Evans' upper classmates Savannah Brothers and Sierra Waggoner also played huge roles in the victory over the Lady Cougars with Brothers turning in a clutch performance from the free throw line in the fourth quarter as she buried six out of six attempts, thwarting a furious MTCS comeback attempt.
"Those foul shots really helped us get over the hill and get the win," said Evans. "We were in a slump, but now we are out of it, so it is all good from here."
Waggoner had eight points in the game, hitting a couple of 3-pointers at some crucial moments in the contest.
Forrest continued to surge in the second period, opening up an 11-point lead on a Waggoner 3-pointer and moments later, Tamia Northcutt swiped the rock from the Lady Cougars and fed Caitlin Yost on the run, who found a wide-open Evans for an easy lay-up.
Erin Mullins scored for MTCS to end the first half and Ashlynd Wilkerson, who led all scorers in the contest with 29 points, opened up the second half with a field goal for the Lady Cougars, cutting the Forrest lead to seven points at 30-23.
Forrest built their lead to 38-26, but Wilkerson kept MTCS in the game with five straight points, including a 3-pointer.
Kyleah Hengesbach answered with a 3-pointer for Forrest and after Lady Cougar turnover, Brothers made it a 43-31 contest with a driving lay-up.
The Lady Rockets took a 10-point lead to the final quarter, but MTCS began to chip away, outscoring Forrest 11-6 over the next four minutes to slice the deficit in half.
After the two squads traded buckets, Wilkerson put the load on her shoulders, scoring six out of the next eight points in the contest, cutting the Forrest lead to a single digit at 55-54 with 2:26 remaining in the game.
Saved by free throws
In what hasn't been the case for much of the season, Forrest came up big from the free throw as Brothers, Hengesbach, and Evans all nailed a pair of free throws over the two minutes to go back up by seven points at 61-54 with 46.2 seconds left.
Jordan Faulkner drained a 3-pointer for MTCS, but Brothers finished off MTCS with four more charity shots down the stretch, securing the win for Forrest.
"I think this is something to start rolling on," said Jean. "It's a totally different feeling in that locker room after a win like this."
Brothers also had 17 points for Forrest, while Yost ended up with eight, Hengesbach added seven points, Margaret Bryan had six, and Northcutt tallied two points.
Camden Adams and Abby Buckner scored nine points apiece for MTCS, while Mary Claire Dutton added seven, Mullins finished with five points, and Faulkner had the one 3-pointer.