Wins nearing grasp of improving Rockets

Sunday, December 11, 2016
Freshman Ryley McClaran, who scored a team-high 23 points versus MTCS Tuesday night, throws down a 3-pointer from way beyond the arc that gave Forrest a short-lived fourth quarter lead. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest Rockets are getting closer to claiming some wins, witnessed by an inspired performance at MTCS Tuesday night where they suffered a tough 64-61 loss to the Cougars (5-1, 2-0).

"I am very, very proud of the effort from the guys Tuesday night at a very tough place to play," Forrest coach Randy Toombs said. "We are inching our way to that line where we either need to start winning or the season is going to get away from us. The boys are so much fun to watch and I'm sure the wins are going to start coming soon."

Ryley McClaran continued his stellar freshman season, pouring in 23 points for the Rockets, including all three of Forrest's 3-pointers in the contest.

Jacob Rich also had a big game for the Rockets, scoring 19 points with a dozen of his markers coming in a huge 23-point third quarter comeback.

"Ryley has put in a huge amount of extra hours and it shows on the court, when teams are face guarding your freshman guard every night and even switching defensive men just to keep a fresh one him---that shows a huge respect for his skill set," Toombs stated. "And in doing so, it allows the others like Jacob Rich to perform and produce as needed."

Cougar standout Barr Ellenburg led all scorers in the game with 28 points, while Kevon Hill (13) and Joseph Peck (11) were also in double figures for MTCS.

Mitchell Everette opens the game with a basket in the low post for the Rockets.

Mitchell Everette and McClaran scored on back-to-back trips down the floor to start the game for Forrest before the Cougars took control to lead by nine points at the end of the first quarter and by 10 at 35-25 at halftime.

Ellenburg scored to begin the second half before the Rockets put together their best eight minutes of the season, coming all the way back to trail by two points with Rich scoring the last basket of the third quarter that had the Cougars in front 50-48.

The fourth period began just like the third as Ellenburg made it a four-point game, but Ty Hengesbach matched the Ellenburg bucket.

After a Cougar missed shot, McClaran rained home a 3-pointer from another zip code, converting the trey from at least five feet beyond the three-point stripe to put Forrest in the lead at 53-52.

Jacob Rich knocks in a one-handed runner for two of his 19 points in the Rockets' 64-61 loss at MTCS Tuesday night.

The Rockets tied the game twice more with the first time coming on a Rich bucket to make it 55-55 and with 2:29 remaining in the game, two McClaran free throws tied the game at 59.

A Cougar 3-pointer followed the McClaran free throws, but McClaran converted at the other end to make it a 62-61 contest and that was as tantalizingly close as Forrest would get to claim the much needed win.

"They are a hard working group that is always in the gym, film room and weight room putting in the hours and positive payoffs are just around the corner," Toombs said.

The Rockets ((1-9, 0-2), who lost to Community twice last season, entertain the Vikings (2-6, 1-0) tonight in a District 9A tussle.

"Our team motto is 'Next Man Up'----and next team up is Community, so----fun times ahead all season," Toombs said. "That's what is so exciting about this year's district----it could really be anybody's to take."

Forrest 10 15 23 13 - 61

MTCS 19 16 15 14 - 64

Forrest (61): Ryley McClaran 23, Jacob Rich 19, Ty Hengesbach 8, Mitchell Everette 5, Tim Eliot 2, Austin Bailey 2, Sam Ford 2.

Free throws (7-for-8): Ryley McClaran 6-for-6, Everette 1-for-2

MTCS (64): Barr Ellenburg 28, Kevon Hill 13, Joseph Peck 11, Nate Howell 6, Ben Phillips 5, Steven Turnham 1.

Free throws (8-for-13): Hill 4-for-5, Ellenburg 2-for-3, Turnham 1-for-2, peck 1-for-2, Howell 0-for-1.

Halftime: MTCS 35, Forrest 25.

3-point goals: Forrest (3): McClaran 3; MTCS (6): Howell 2, Ellenburg 2, Phillips, Hill.