FMS girls take blow, stand tall

Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Anna Blanton knocks down a 3-pointer in the first half for the Lady Rockets, who beat Cascade 34-26 in the first round 0f the World Tournament Monday night at Chapel Hill. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

The second-seeded FMS Lady Rockets faced an inspired Cascade squad in Monday night's second round of the Duck River Valley Conference Tournament and the Lady Champions gave the Chapel Hill girls all they had before Forrest pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 34-26 win.

"My father always said 'an ugly win is still a win' and I am going to give Cascade all the credit, they made us play that way," FMS coach David Junkins said. "It is good to survive, Cascade brought it tonight."

In the semifinal round tomorrow night at 6: 30 p.m., FMS will face the winner of tonight's game, featuring third-seeded Community versus the No. 6 seeded Liberty Lady Patriots.

Chilling effect

The Lady Rockets were ice cold from the field to start the game and never really heated up until late, but Junkins was quick to acknowledge the defensive effort by Cascade contributed mightily to the sparse amount of points through the first three periods.

The squads only scored 10 points between them in the first quarter with Forrest's points coming on 3-pointers by twin sisters Ally and Anna Blanton.

The Blanton twins led all scorers in the contest, scoring 13 points apiece.

FMS scored just six more points in the second quarter with four by Ally Blanton and two by Laura Ann Mealer, but it was enough to increase their lead to eight as the Lady Rockets' defense pitched a shutout to lead 12-4 at the intermission.

Pulling ahead

With 3:46 remaining in the third quarter, a Lani Jones bucket sliced the FMS to 16-12 lead before Ally Blanton sandwiched a pair of buckets around a Mealer lay-in, making it a 22-11 contest.

Cascade would not give in as Maddie Anderson and Kailey Snell scored in succession to end the third quarter with Forrest leading 22-15.

"Those girls from Cascade gave us everything we wanted, they were playing for their middle school coach, whose wife had a baby this afternoon, so their high school coach stepped in," Junkins said. "Those girls had a lot to prove tonight, stepping up trying to impress the high school coach and they did a great job."

Cascade fired up

Forrest extended its lead to nine points when a technical foul was called on the Cascade coach and Anna Blanton subsequently made both free throws.

The technical foul seemed to fire up the Lady Champions, who scored four straight, slicing the deficit to five at 24-19 with just over three minutes to play in the game.

Ally Blanton drives to the hoop late in the game for two of her 13 points in the contest.

Ally Blanton stopped the run with another basket, but Cascade hung in, making it a four-point game, moments later on a bucket by Elli Chumley.

Two missed free throws by Forrest gave the ball back to Cascade, who lost the rock in a tie-up that led to a Shea Lewis basket in the paint for the Lady Rockets and Anna Blanton stuck in the dagger when she stole the ball and romped in for a lay-up.

Still in action

FMS would hang on from there to advance and survive.

"We survived tonight and get to play two more games in the tournament and hopefully we get it together a little bit better, going into Thursday night," Junkins said. "We were the seventh seed last year and upset Cascade, so we can't overlook anybody."

Cascade 4 0 11 11-26

Forrest 6 6 10 12-34

Cascade-Elli Chumley 10, Kailey Snell 9, Carmen Ray 3, Maddie Crosslin 2, Lani Jones 2.

Free throws-Chumley 4-8, Crosslin 0-1, Snell 1-3, Ray 1-1.

Forrest-Anna Blanton 13, Ally Blanton 13, Laura Ann Mealer 4, Sydney Mitchell 2, Shea Lewis 2.

Three-point goals-Anna Blanton.

Free throws-Anna Blanton 6-8, Ally Blanton 4-9, Mealer 0-5, Lewis 0-2.