Lady Rockets sweep Thanksgiving classic
The Forrest Lady Rockets turned some heads around the mid-state on Wednesday night not just by beating 3A powerhouse Dickson County, but by beating the Lady Cougars soundly by eight points in a game Forrest led for the majority of the second half.
The Lady Rockets (3-1), plagued by inconsistencies during last season's disappointing 18-15 campaign, beat a Dickson County (4-1) team 63-55 that finished 2015-16 in the 3A state quarterfinals with a 29-4 record.
After graduating just two starters from last year's squad and returning two of the top 30 players in the state, the Cougars came into Chapel Hill undefeated with a convincing win over Shelbyville by 10 points and blow out victories over Montgomery Central by 54, Summertown by 26 and perennial 3A power Lawrence County by 40 points.
The Lady Rockets were supposed to be a mere warm-up as Dickson County jumped head first into a tough 3A schedule but Forrest, led by senior Belmont signee Caitlyn Yost's 32 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two blocks, had other plans.
"The biggest difference is all these kids are a year older," Forrest coach Jeremy Jean explained. "(Madison) Curtis, Katey (Harmon), all those sophomores have gotten a year of playing time last year. They all played. Yost has taken her game to another level and so has (Kyleah) Hengesbach. So that year of experience, when they were trying to foul us I didn't have to tell them what to do."
The Lady Rockets got strong inside play from Sydney Hill and Grace Thrasher, who combined for 13 points and senior guard Kyleah Hengesbach added 10 points, 4 rebounds and two assists.
Eighth-grade prodigy Laura Ann Mealer pulled down a team-high eight rebounds to go along with two points and an assist.
"Our post players combined for 13 and that's something we haven't had in the past," Jean said. "I think they've bought into the fact that they're a two-headed monster. We're gonna wear people down."
The inside duo made its mark on the defensive end, holding highly touted inside presence Kailey Rosenbaum scoreless in the first half before she came alive in the second half for 15 points.
"Coach (Jean) told us not to front her because she likes the lob, so just deny her the best we could," Thrasher, who added five rebounds and a block said. "We knew she was bigger than us, but we knew she would foul a lot and get charges so we tried to take those charges."
Yost led the charge early and often, putting the home team up 9-5 on a three-point play, but the Lady Cougars built a 14-9 lead before Yost knocked down back to back buckets and a 3-pointer for the 17-16 lead after one quarter.
The two teams fought back and forth throughout the second quarter with FHS leading 22-19 on a Hengesbach triple but needed a Katey Harmon offensive rebound and put-back to tie the game at 24 with 2:20 left in the first half.
Freshman Jayde Langley knocked down a turnaround jumper with just under a minute remaining and the home team went into the break clinging to a one-point 28-27 lead.
Yost started out the third quarter with the hot hand, knocking down two triples and after hitting two free throws, Forrest enjoyed its biggest lead at 39-33.
Rosenbaum finally came alive with 10 third quarter points and Union signee Emily Beard scored on a runner in the land to tie the game at 39.
Thrasher made one of the biggest plays on the night when the junior post player grabbed a Yost missed shot and scored on a reverse layup to stop a streaking Lady Cougar team and give the Lady Rockets back the lead for the final time.
Forrest finished the game at the free throw stripe to finish strong and start the tournament with a 63-55 statement win.
"I think it makes a statement," Yost said. "A statement to other teams saying 'hey, look what we are capable of when we play as a team. We can do this. Watch out for us.'"
"It's a very good win against a very good team but we need to focus on continuing to play that way and continuing to win games because if we don't, beating Dickson County on Wednesday meant nothing," Yost added.
The Lady Rockets finished off the tournament by beating Giles County 49-41 before taking down Nolensville 66-37.
Dickson County 16 11 18 10-55
Forrest 17 11 14 21-63
Forrest-Caitlyn Yost 32, Kyleah Hengesbach 10, Sydney Hill 7, Grace Thrasher 6, Madison Curtis 2, Jayde Langley 2, Katie Harmon 2, Laura Ann Mealer 2
Three-point goals-Yost 3, Hengesbach 2.
Dickson County-Ryann Roberts 15, Kailey Rosenbaum 15, Olivia Rinehart 9, Cierra Smith 8, Emily Beard 6, Raegan Purvine 2
Three-point goals-Rinehart 3, Smith 2
Halftime score: Forrest 28 Dickson County 27
Forrest 23 13 13 8-57
MJCA 3 9 0 2-14
Forrest- Jaide Langley 13, Caitlyn Yost 10, Kyleah Hengesbach 8, Ally Blanton 4, Grace Thrasher 4, Laura Mealer 4, Tamia Northcutt 3, Emma Stacey 3, Anna Blanton 2, Sydney Hill 2, Madison Curtis 2, Shea Lewis 2
Three-point goals- Yost 2, Stacey, Langley, Ally Blanton
MJCA- Abi Hildabrand 7, Caitlyn Smith 3, Marcella Galleyanne 1, Amelia Lynons 1
Three-point goals- Galleyanne
Forrest 12 12 10 15-49
Giles 2 14 15 10-41
Forrest-Caitlyn Yost 21, Jaide Langley 9, Kyleah Hengesbach 7, Sydney Hill 5, Laura Mealer 4, Madison Curtis 3 pts
Three-point goals-Yost 2, Langley, Hengesbach, Curtis
Giles Co- Erin Freeman 26 pts, Alexia Rose 3, Bianca Malone 3, Jensen Harper 2, Tee Hollingsworth 2, Mary Katlyn Bruce 2, Taylor McNairy 2
Forrest 23 19 14 10-66
Nolensville 4 4 17 12-37
Caitlyn Yost 13, Tamia Northcutt 11, Laura Mealer 11, Kyleah Hengesbach 8, Anna Blanton 6, Grace Thrasher 4, Jaide Langley 4, Katey Harmon 4, Madison Curtis 2, Sydney Hill 2, Ally Blanton 1
Three-point goals-Northcutt, Mealer, Hengesbach, Anna Blanton
Nolensville- Holli Finnel 14, Parker Leftwich 11, Grace Baird 6, Sydney Mikulan 4, Iva Cerbesia 2, Hailey Hughes 2
Tree-point goals-Finnel 2, Leftwich