FMS Rockets extend winning streak to 6
The final score was not an indicator of how close the game really was Tuesday night at Chapel Hill when Forrest Middle School (9-3) beat Cornersville Middle 59-28 in a boys game.
"We have a long way to go. It's baby steps," FMS coach Jessica Ezell said.
Ezell, who returned to the bench this year after a five-year hiatus added, "If we can walk away from each game knowing that we fixed something little, by the time the tournament (Duck River Valley Conference) rolls around, we'll be fine."
The game was close the entire first half, and the Rockets did not begin to pull away until midway through the third period when they opened a double-digit lead.
Forrest, playing without starting guard Cole Villazon, who's out for a week with a broken nose, came out inspired to take a 8-1 lead before the Bulldogs fought back. Tyler Wolaver, who led the Bulldogs with 17 points, got Cornersville going, converting a three-point play in the paint to cut the Forrest lead in half.
Moments later, Wolaver scored again to make it 8-6 before Ryley McClaran, who had a game-high 20 points, nailed a 3-pointer for the Rockets. The only other point tallied for the remainder of the first quarter was one foul shot by Spencer McCown.
Back into lead
McClaran scored to open the second quarter for a 14-6 lead, but the Bulldogs went on a 7-2 run that was capped by Jackson Mitchell's basket with 3:12 remaining in the half. Ezell called time out after Mitchell's score, and McClaran scored the next five points on a trey and a drive to the hoop.
Tilden Jackson hit one free throw for the Bulldogs before both teams struggled until McClaran drained both ends of a one-and-one from the line in the final seconds to give the Rockets a 23-14 lead at intermission.
Dylan Baus opened the second half with a layup for the Bulldogs before McCown made it a 10-point game when he converted a three-point play inside. Cornersville managed to stay within striking distance, carving two points off the deficit with 1:41 left in the period.
McClaran drained another 3-pointer to make it an 11-point game and that was the margin for the Rockets, entering the final six minutes of play. Lofton Yeager, who was playing with four fouls, opened up the fourth quarter with a bucket in the paint.
The 'trash man'
"Lofton plays a tremendous role on this team and may not get a lot of points," Ezell said. "But we call him our trash man and he's our trash man for a reason."
Forrest began to surge ahead as McClaran hit two more free throws and Max Kirby, filling in Villazon, drilled a deep three-bomb to make it 44-25.
"Max Kirby truly stepped up. I didn't know how he'd handle it being a seventh-grader," Ezell said. "He's used to coming off the bench, but he stepped up, and his defense was tremendous and it was exactly what we needed."
Ezell emptied the bench from that point and John Reasonover made the most of his appearance as the seventh-grader scored eight points on a pair of treys and a bucket as the Rockets cruised to the landing pad.
The Rockets have won six in a row and eight of their last nine ballgames.
"They are hot and they're playing together and that's been a struggle we've worked on all year," Ezell said. "We have a lot of great individuals and now that they've realized let's put all this together, they're a totally different team. If they can play together, we'll be really hard to handle."
Cornersville 6 8 11 3 -- 28
Forrest 12 11 13 25 -- 59
Cornersville: Tyler Wolaver 17, Jackson Mitchell 5, Brady Calahan 2, Dylan Baus 2, Jay Stafford 1.
Forrest: Ryley McClaran 20, Max Kirby 13, John Reasonover 8, Spencer McCown 6, Lofton Yeager 5, Dalton Colvin 2, CJ Sanchez 2, Cannon Cervantes 2, Hunter Pendley 1.
3-pointers: McClaran 2, Reasonover 2, Kirby.
Photos by Anthony S. Puca
Max Kirby (5), who had 13 points against Cornersville Tuesday night at Chapel Hill, drives to the hoop for a layup in the first quarter.
CJ Sanchez (42) is full of trepidation as his shot goes in for two points in the fourth quarter.
Tyler Wolaver (24) led the Bulldogs with 17 points.
Jackson Mitchell (23) looks for a teammate to pass to as he drives to the basket in the second half.