Rockets beat Cascade, reach World finals

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The defending World Tournament champion Forrest Middle School boys came into the 2015 tournament somewhat of an underdog as five- seed.

With a 47-34 win over long-time rival Cascade, the 2015 edition proved they are a force to be reckoned with by advancing to the championship game against six-seed Middle Tennessee Christian School.

Team play

"We are finally playing team basketball, finally," FMS coach Jessica Ezell said. "It took all year. They are excited when others do well. For the longest time we weren't selfish, but we were more worried about what we could do individually."

"Our new approach is not one game at a time, but one quarter at a time,"Ezell added. "I don't know if it's the age, junior high, but I had to take it back. One quarter at a time and that's our goal to win each quarter. And they did."

The Rockets were led by Cole Villazon with 20 points, four rebounds and two assists, Spencer McCown had 14 points, four assists, and three rebounds and Ryley McClaran chipped in with eight points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Big early lead

The Rockets jumped out to an 11-4 first quarter lead behind two McCown 3-pointers and five Villazon points.

McClaran started out the second quarter with a steal and a hoop, and Villazon followed suit with a steal and a jumper as the Rockets took a 15-6 edge.

Brandon Heath would get the Champions back in the game with a baseline jumper and a deep 3-pointer to cut the lead to 17-13.

Heath hit two free throws to end the second half down four, 24-20.

Heath hit a difficult underhand layup to start the second half and Blaze Byron scored on a layup to tie the game at 24-24 early into the third quarter, forcing Ezell to call a time out to calm her players down.

Calming down

"I told them to slow the tempo down," Ezell said. "My biggest thing I'm learning with middle school is reminding them, who's in control. Who's winning the game? We're up, there's no reason to rush. For the longest time I would tell them to slow it down and they thought it meant to stop.

Be smart. If it's open, take it. If it's not, bring it back out; be OK with setting our offense back up. But they're getting it."

Following the time-out, Villazon hit a mid range jumper and a steal and a lay-up. McClaran then hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the game out of reach for the Champions and the Rockets took home the 47-34 win.

Forrest 11 13 12 11 47

Cascade 4 16 9 5 34

Forrest (47): Ryley McClaran 8, Spencer McCown 14, Cole Villazon 20, Joel Burton 1, Lofton Yeager 4.

Cascade (34): Bryson Holt 2, Blaze Bryon 14, Brandon Heath 10, Seth Countess 4, Alex Allison 2, Michael Gentry 2.

Three-point goals- Forrest (8): McClaran 2, McCown 4, Villazon 2. Cascade (1): Heath