Lady Rockets off to a torrid start
After a season opening loss to Lincoln County, the Forrest Lady Rockets have caught fire, winning seven games in a row, including a huge 80-25 blowout win Friday night at Fayetteville in the District 9A opener for both schools.
"It's always good to get that first district win," Forrest coach Jeremy Jean said. "I think we are starting to find ourselves because we are doing all those little things you have to do and the team is playing really well together."
Forrest dominated every aspect of the game and put the contest away by the half, leading 45-12.
Eleven players scored for Forrest with senior Caitlyn Yost leading the way with 16 points, including two 3-pointers and a perfect 2-for-2 effort from the free throw line.
"If you take away those first six shots we missed to start the game, we shot really good tonight," Jean said. "We took good shots and we have been practicing what is a good shot and what's not, so when you see those 15-footers go down and Yost scoring on layups, you have something good going."
Junior Katey Harmon (three 3's) and freshman Jaide Langley (two 3's) had 14 points apiece and Grace Thrasher had nine.
Yost banged home a 3-pointer to start the game and after a Fayetteville missed shot, Harmon came up with a rebound and put-back.
Neither squad scored for several minutes until Yost drained another trey to make it 8-0 before DJ Horton finally got the Lady Tigers on the board with 4:30 remaining in the first quarter.
Sydney Hill, who started the game with high energy, made two free throws after being fouled and Yost followed with a basket on the Lady Rockets' next possession.
A Fayetteville turnover led to a Langley layup, making it 14-2 and forcing a lady Tigers' timeout with 3:49 left.
Kevondria Carr scored out of the stoppage for Fayetteville and Langley matched the basket.
Thrasher came up with a rebound and was fouled before hitting both free throws to make it 18-4 before Carr scored again, this time on a 3-pointer.
Jean talked about his main two low post players in Hill and Thrasher and how important it is for those two to set the tone.
"Those two are a big part of the reason why we have won seven in a row because they both bring something different the other one can't," the coach stated. "Sydney goes in there, battling and defending and hits a couple of shots and Grace comes in and bings and bangs and makes it tough on the post defender, so those two together have given us another dimension we have not had in a long time."
Forrest senior Kyleah Hengesbach came up with a steal and score to end the first period with Forrest leading 20-7.
The Lady Rockets started the second period crashing the boards, scoring on a pair of rebound and put-backs by Hill and Madison Curtis as Forrest turned up the defensive pressure.
Horton scored on a running layup before Harmon scored the next five points on a long 3-pointer and jumper on the wing, making it a 29-9 contest.
One Horton free throw was followed by the knockout punch as Forrest went on a 13-0 run led by Yost, who scored 10 in the spurt, while Harmon netted the other four points, including her third and final 3-pointer of the game.
Horton broke the Forrest scoring streak with a basket, but one Thrasher free throw and a Yost basket at the end of the period gave Forrest a commanding 45-12 lead at the half.
The Lady Rockets did not let up at the outset of the second half as Thrasher scored four points in the low post and Anna Blanton added another bucket before Horton once again had to score to break a Chapel Hill run.
Langley scored 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter as Forrest went up by 35 points late, invoking the 35-point mercy rule that was in effect the remainder of the contest.
"They smelled blood and wanted to keep on going, what we had tonight was the killer instinct," Jean said. "That is something we have to keep working on, because when we have a team down you have to finish them off. We had a bunch of kids come in the third and fourth quarter and make shots, so we can extend leads, no matter what the situation is."
Forrest led 68-23 entering the final period where they scored a dozen points on six by Ally Blanton, a 3-pointer by her twin sister Anna and three points by senior Tamia Northcutt.
Fayetteville was held scoreless in the fourth quarter by the suffocating Forrest defense.
Jean talked about the upcoming Christmas break and whether the Lady Rockets would still be playing in the Smoky Mountain Classic at Gatlinburg-Pittman on December 21-23 because of the devastation incurred by the local residents as a result of the recent deadly wildfires in the area.
"I heard from the coach yesterday morning and it is still a go, so we have decided to go up there and support them," Jean said. "It makes you think that there is more to life than wins and losses, but basketball can help them help somebody else by going up there and trying to do something. I talked to the coach and we will try to do something special for someone, maybe pick out a family or something and try to make it just a litter easier for them."
Forrest 20 25 23 12-80
Fayetteville 7 5 13 0-25
Forrest-Caitlyn Yost 16, Jaide Langley 14, Katey Harmon 14, Grace Thrasher 9, Ally Blanton 6, Anna Blanton 5, Tamia Northcutt 5, Sydney Hill 4, Laura Mealer 3, Kyleah Hengesbach 2, Madison Curtis 2
Three-point goals-Harmon 3, Yost 2, Langley 2, Anna Blanton 1
Free throws-Thrasher 3-for-5, Yost 2-for-2, Hill 2-for-2, Harmon 1-for-2, Northcutt 1-for-3, Laura Mealer 1-for-4
Fayetteville-DJ Horton 16, Kevondria Carr 7, Carrie Staples 2
Three-point goals-Horton, Carr
Free throws-Staples 2-for-2, Carr 2-for-2, Horton 1-for-4
Next game-Friday, December 9 vs. Community, 6 p.m.