Comeback not enough for Lady Rockets

Friday, January 22, 2016
Forrest coach Jeremy Jean gives the Lady Rockets some instructions during a furious fourth quarter comeback. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

After a modest two-game winning streak, the Forrest Lady Rockets traveled to Middle Tennessee Christian School Tuesday night where the fell 61-55 to the Lady Cougars.

Forrest was in the game early, but fell way behind before mounting a furious fourth quarter comeback that was squelched by some clutch free throw shooting down the stretch by MTCS.

The Lady Cougars' two big guns Abby Buckner and Ashlynd Wilkerson split 44 points evenly and the duo combined for on a 10-for-11 performance from the free throw line with Buckner nailing 5-of-6 in the fourth quarter.

Let loose

"We forgot that we had to defend their best players," said Forrest coach Jeremy Jean. "If you let Wilkerson and Buckner get some easy shots early, they are very hard to guard."

Caitlyn Yost made a 3-pointer to start the game and it looked like it would be an even battle when Hailey Collins nailed a trey to tie the game at 7.

From there, Buckner and Wilkerson outscored Forrest 12-2 the remainder of the first quarter for a 19-9 lead.

A Buckner 3-pointer midway through the second quarter pushed the lead to 15 points at 28-13 before the Lady Rockets made their first comeback attempt, cutting the MTCS lead to seven points at the intermission after a Yost 3-pointer finished off a 10-2 Forrest run.

Waiting to play

"Offensively we were in stand and watch mode the first half," Jean said. "After we spotted them 15 points on us, we decided to play. If we came out with intensity and some fire, the game would've went in our favor."

The Lady Rockets continued with the hot hand to start the second half as Collins scored off of a Yost steal, making it 32-27.

Katey Harmon takes the rock strong to the hole in the fourth quarter for Forrest, who fell 61-55 to the Lady Cougars Tuesday night at Murfreesboro.

MTCS scored the next four points, but Katey Harmon got two points back on a drive to the hoop and after an MTCS turnover, Collins scored for the Lady Rockets, slicing the MTCS lead to five points.

The hometown girls went on the offensive again, finishing the third quarter with a 12-4 run to lead 48-35, entering the fourth quarter.

Almost caught up

With 4:02 to play in the game, Buckner scored to open up a double digit lead for MTCS, but a 9-1 Forrest spurt that ended on a Harmon free throw tightened the contest up at 54-52 with one minute to play.

Buckner nailed four in a row from the free throw line, making it a six-point game until Yost nailed a 3-pointer late, but MTCS hit 3-of-4 from the foul line to seal the win.

"We did find some girls that wanted to play and fight back," Jean said. "We missed some assignments late like fouling the wrong people and taking some contested shot late. We had it cut to three and couldn't get a good shot."

The Lady Rockets (12-10, 3-5) host No. 8 Community (17-2, 6-1) tonight as they move towards the start of the District 9-A Tournament at Chapel Hill on January 13.

Looking forward

"Being 3-5 in the district isn't were we want to be, but it is one of the toughest single A districts in the state, if not the toughest," Jean said. "If you can't get first or second and get a bye in the tournament, 3-to-6 doesn't matter, it is going to be a tough game no matter where you finish."

Collins led the Lady Rockets with 17 points, Yost had 16 and Harmon was also in double figures with 12.

"As far as preparing for Community, we just have to be extremely focused on every possession and we can't forget how to guard people and to block out their bigs," Jean said. "If we can win the battle of the boards and contest their shots on the perimeter, we have a chance to win the game."

Forrest 9 14 12 20-55

MTCS 19 11 18 13-61

Forrest-(55) Hailey Collins 17, Caitlyn Yost 16, Harmon 12, Kyleah Hengesbach 8, Krista Chapman 2.

Three-point goals-(5) Collins 3, Yost 2.

Free throws-(10-14) Hengesbach 4-6, Yost 2-2, Harmon 4-6.

MTCS-(61) Abby Buckner 22, Ashlynd Wilkerson 22, Camden Adams 6, Mary Claire Dutton 4, Emma Self 4, Kayla Taylor 3.

Three-point goals-(3) Buckner 2, Wilkerson.

Free throws-(12-16) Taylor 3-4, Buckner 6-7, Wilkerson 4-4, Abby Hageman 0-2.

Halftime score-MTCS 30, Forrest 23.