Hot-shooting McEwen eliminates Lady Rockets
In six previous meetings dating back to 2006, Forrest prevailed every time versus McEwen, but on Friday in Humphries County, the seventh time was the charm as the Lady Warriors broke the jinx with a 60-46 win over the Lady Rockets in the opening round of the Region 5-A Tournament, ending Chapel Hill's season.
"I feel as we reflect back on the season, I hope that the girls will realize that it was a good season," Forrest coach Jeremy Jean said. "It ended a couple games short of what we hoped, but there wasn't a night that they didn't fight till the end and try to do what we needed to do to win and for that I am thankful to them."
McEwen senior Maddie Long, a Lee University signee, had an almost perfect game for the Lady Warriors, pouring in a game-high 24 points with four 3-pointers and a 4-for-4 performance from the free throw line.
Lexie Edwards also had a big game for host McEwen, scoring 18 points with 3 treys and a solid 4-for-7 effort from the free throw line.
"Friday night was a heartbreaker," Jean said. "McEwen had some kids that normally don't score make some big shots. They had players that haven't made many three's make a lot on us, some of them even banked in a couple."
Junior Caitlyn Yost led the Lady Rockets with 15 points and senior Krista Chapman knocked in 12 points in her last game with Forrest.
Forrest's other senior, Hailey Collins had three points and Jean was thankful for the effort all season from his two senior leaders.
"Our seniors, Hailey and Krista really did a good job for us this year in ways that you can't see in the scorebook," Jean stated. "They accepted their roles that we needed them to be in for us to be successful and always gave their all on the court."
The Lady Rockets started well defensively and led 11-10 after the first period before McEwen took a 15-13 lead early in the second period on a Kelsey Donaldson bucket in the post.
Yost scored to tie the game and Forrest would go on to take a 19-15 lead on a Chapman bucket, bookended by a pair of free throws by Tamia Northcutt.
Long banged home a 3-pointer, but the first half ended on a Sydney Hill basket in the paint, giving Forrest a 21-18 lead at the intermission.
Forrest's Katey Harmon scored five points, including a 3-pointer and McEwen's Kaitlyn Crump scored four points to begin the second half, but with 4:44 to play in the period, Long went long again, making it 27-26 and forcing a Chapel Hill timeout.
From there, the Lady Warriors went on a rampage, outscoring Forrest 12-3 the remainder of the period as Long would make two more 3-pointers, making it a 38-30 ballgame, entering the fourth quarter.
"Our defense in the first half was as good as we had played all year" Jean said. "In the third quarter, we lost some people for some easy shots and they made them."
The closets Forrest would get the rest of the way was five points as McEwen held firm, including a back-breaking 6-for-7 effort from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
"The fourth quarter McEwen did a good job of not letting our traps and pressure get to them and they didn't miss many free throws," Jean stated.
The Lady Rockets ended the season with an 18-15 record, while McEwen (21-5) advanced to the Region 5-A Tournament semifinals versus the seventh-ranked District 9-A champion Community Viqueens (26-2).
"The future should be good for us with what we have returning eight kids that got some quality minutes this season," Jean said. "But if, as individual, we don't want to improve between now and next November those minutes do not matter. We all have to want to improve, from me all the way down to the upcoming freshmen. I know that that will happen."
Forrest 11 10 9 16-49
McEwen 10 8 20 22-60
Forrest-Caitlyn Yost 15, Krista Chapman 12, Katey Harmon 7, Kyleah Hengesbach 5, Hailey Collins 3, Tamia Northcutt 2, Madison Curtis 2, Sydney Hill 2.
3-point goals-Hengesbach 1, Harmon 1.
Free throws-Yost 1-4, Collins 3-4, Northcutt 2-4, Curtis 2-2, Harmon 2-2.
McEwen-Maddie Long 24, Lexie Edwards 18, Kelsey Donaldson 8, Kaitlyn Crump 4, Paige Sanker 3.
3-point goals-Long 4, Edwards 3, Sanker 1.
Free throws-Long 4-4, Sanker 3-4, Edwards 4-7, Cassidy Nikoff 0-2, Donaldson 6-6.
Halftime score-Forrest 21, McEwen 18.