Tigers fly past Rockets

Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Korbin Brown pulls up for a jumper after taking the rock strong to the baseline for two of his 20 points in the contest. Tribune photo by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest Rockets hosted Fayetteville in Friday night's league opener and the defending District 9A champions picked up right where they left off as the Tigers started slow before turning on the second half jets in a 68-52 win at Chapel Hill.

"It's a shame, we just didn't match baskets and if you don't match them, you are in trouble," Forrest coach Randy Toombs said. "We doubled their turnovers, so I think this all fixable and I am not waylaying on them. I want to keep their spirts up."

Nickolas Hopkins continued his stellar start to the season for Fayetteville, pouring in 30 points to lead all scoring in the contest.

'D' ready to go

Forrest came out in good form defensively, leading 9-8 late on a Donovan Murray basket, but consecutive field goals by the Tigers at the end of the first quarter gave the visitors a 13-8 lead.

A 3-pointer by Andrew Kelley and two Hopkins' baskets boosted Fayetteville's lead to 20-10 at the outset of the second quarter and with just over one minute to go in the first half, the Tigers led 28-18 before a Rocket resurgence changed the momentum.

Korbin Brown, who led the Rockets with 20 points, sparked the late rally with a fast break bucket off a Fayetteville missed shot and another miss by the Tigers led to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Brown, making it 28-23 at halftime.

Halftime change

"I told Korbin at the half, here's the thing----you don't need to go in soft, you can jump as high as any of them, so just go that baseline and finish and look, he had a great second half," Toombs said. "I've told him from the time I met him, you could be a baseline killer if you want to be."

Hopkins scored on a driving three-point play to the hoop to begin the second half and after a Forrest missed shot, Isiah Watkins scored to increase their lead back to double digits.

The Tigers would eventually increase their lead to as many as 15 points late in the period and to 17 points at the end of the third quarter.

Austin Bailey saves the ball from going out of bounds in the first half.

No backing down

The experienced Fayetteville squad would not let the Rockets get any glimmer of hope for a comeback in the final eight minutes and the game ended with Forrest still playing hard to the final buzzer.

"We held them to their lowest score of the season, so I can't complain, but daggum we have to hit some shots," Toombs said. "We are going to sneak up on somebody, this is going to be one of those grueling long seasons."

Fayetteville 13 15 21 17-68

Forrest 8 15 11 18-52

Fayetteville-Nick Hopkins 30, Isiah Watkins 14, Mikeal Buchanan 8, Andrew Kelley 7, Ty Reese 6, Zorian Pullen 3.

Three-point goals-Hopkins 1, Kelley 1.

Forrest-Korbin Brown 20, Donovan Murray 10, Graham Anglin 9, DJ Jones 6, Ty Hengesbach 3, Austin Bailey 2, Jacob Rich 2.

Three-point goals-Anglin 3, Brown 2, Murray 1, Hengesbach 1.