Rockets can't stop Hopkins

Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Korbin Brown drives the baseline before scoring two of his team-high 18 points at Fayetteville Friday night. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

Belmont signee Nicholas Hopkins continued his superlative senior season Friday night on his home court at Fayetteville, pouring in 41 points to lead the Tigers to a 69-45 win over the Forrest Rockets.

Hopkins scored 30 points in an earlier December meeting at Forrest.

Respect earned

"Hopkins gained much respect from me Friday night, he seemed to finish difficult shots and that's a mark of a very strong total player," Forrest coach Randy Toombs said. "I'm excited to see him in a Belmont Bruin uniform next year, but I kinda wish he could go right now."

The defending District 9-A champion Tigers have now won four in a row over the Rockets and are heading in the right direction after a slow start to the season.

Hopkins scored the first four points in the game Friday night before a David Andrews basket got the Rockets on the board.

Andrew Kelley came up with a bucket for Fayetteville, but a Korbin Brown 3-pointer made it a one point game.

Hopkins scored again for the Tigers, making it 8-5 and a Dylan Jones bucket for the Rockets kept the visitors close until back-to-back Hopkins treys doubled the lead to 14-7.

Fayetteville took a 20-11 into the second quarter and increased it to 13 points with two baskets at the outset of the period.

Donovan Murray led a claw back for the Rockets with a field goal and a 3-pointer to cut the Fayetteville lead to eight points 24-16.

From there, Hopkins and the Tigers took control of the game, going on a 10-0 run that was capped off by a Hopkins steal and slam dunk that ignited the Fayetteville faithful.

DJ Jones concentrates from the free throw line for the Rockets, who lost 69-45 to the Tigers.

Solid team

"Fayetteville is a very good basketball team and they seem to be very solid with the top five and maybe a few more," Toombs said. "They shot very well as a team and we had a very good third quarter when we outscored them 12-6. But, we still lack that fighting mentality for four strong quarters. I have seen it a couple of times this year, but still not consistent enough to be successful."

One free throw each by Murray and Mitchell Everette would be the only points the Rockets would score the remainder of the period, while the Tigers scored six to take a commanding 40-19 lead at the intermission.

Star on a roll

Hopkins scored all six of Fayetteville's points in the third quarter as the Rockets scored 12 to make it a 15-point ballgame, entering the fourth quarter.

Fourteen fourth quarter points by Hopkins was too much for the Rockets to handle as they fell to 3-17 on the season and slipped to 1-6 in District 9-A play.

"Down the stretch here, we need to continue to get better at the small things and fight for four quarters and hope our hard work pays off," said Toombs.

Forrest 11 8 12 14-45

Fayetteville 20 20 6 23-69

Forrest-Korbin Brown 18, Donovan Murray 10, David Andrews 4, Jacob Rich 4, Ty Hengesbach 3, Dylan Jones 3, Cole Villazon 2, Mitchell Everette 1.

Three-point goals-Brown 3, Murray, Hengesbach.

Free throws-(10-14) Murray 3-4, Brown 1-2, Rich 4-4, Everette 1-2, Jones 1-2.

Fayetteville-Nicholas Hopkins 41, Isiah Watkins 9, Mikeal Buchanan 6, Andrew Kelley 4, Zorian Pullen 3, Akoyai Dyer 2, Ty Reese 2, Brannan Folston 2.

Three-point goals-Hopkins 3, Pullen.

Free throws-Buchanan 2-2, Watkins 3-6, Folston 0-1, Hopkins 4-5.

Halftime score- Fayetteville 40, Forrest 19.