Lady Rockets knock off No. 3 Raiderettes

Sunday, January 15, 2017
Forrest's Kyleah Hengesbach takes the rock strong to the hoop for her third three-point play in the Lady Rockets' big 64-51 win over third-ranked Moore County Tuesday night at Chapel Hill. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Moore County Raiderettes came into Tuesday night's huge District 9A showdown at Forrest as the number three ranked team in Class A and winners of 11 out of the last 14 games versus the Lady Rockets, including two season ending wins since the 2012-2013 season.

"I think it showed who we really are in our district and set the bar for us," Forrest's Kyleah Hengesbach said. "We practiced all week for this, we played to our full ability and we were ready."

Forrest, coming off a disappointing 63-59 loss at Summertown January 3, was determined to rip the Moore County thorn out its side and take control of the district and they did with a convincing 64-51 win over the Lynchburg girls.

"Every win is a good win, but last night after coming off the loss to Summertown was a really good one," Forrest coach Jeremy Jean said. "Moore County is a very good team, but I think that the girls had laser focus last night. There were only a couple times last night where I feel like we had a lapse in our focus."

"The biggest difference in that last night was that we got our focus back quick, we had the 'next play' mentality and against good teams we have to minimize those lapses and we did."

A pair of Forrest seniors led the way as Caitlyn Yost poured in 23 points, tying Moore County's Kursten Hawkins for game-high honors.

Yost had 12 points in the first half and her senior classmate Hengesbach owned the second half, especially the pivotal fourth quarter when she consciously decided to take the rock to the hole, scoring 12 points, including a trio of three-point plays the old-fashioned way.

"Kyleah was very efficient last night, we are having to manage her minutes to keep her able to go late, and I think that her being fresh in the fourth made a big difference," Jean stated. "She was able to enforce her will on whoever was on her and she made the big buckets and free throws on the one and ones."

A Katie Thomas 3-pointer with three minutes left in the first quarter gave the Raiderettes an 11-9 lead before two Yost free throws tied the game and eighth-grader Laura Mealer followed with a go-ahead 3-pointer to give Forrest a lead they did not surrender the rest of the game.

Yost had eight points in the second quarter, while the game turned into a typical war in the trenches and on defense.

"I think that this team loves when games get physical and you could see that," Jean said. "This team can play the game in different ways-----physical, finesse, run it, or slow it down. That is what will make us a tough out later in the season."

Katey Harmon, who turned in an outstanding defensive and rebounding effort versus Moore County, muscles her way in for a shot in the first half.

Katey Harmon, who finished the game with a black eye and all four of her points in the game from the free throw line in the period was stout on the boards and in defending the rough and tumble Hawkins in her always dependable lunch pail style.

"It does go unnoticed to most people, but the coaches and team know what she does and brings to the game," Jean said. "She played one of her best games of the year. Having to play multiple positions has made her a tough match-up, and last night she took advantage of those opportunities whether it was an assist or taking it to the hole and getting fouled."

Forrest led 25-21 at the half and after a Hawkins bucket to open up the second half, Madison Curtis got into the scoring act on runner in the lane, followed by a 3-pointer.

A Moore County turnover off of some heated defensive pressure gave the ball back to Forrest where Mealer made it a 31-23 contest with a driving layup way up on the glass.

Every time Moore County made a comeback, a Chapel Hill 3-pointer squelched the rally thanks to Yost and freshman Jaide Langley, who finished with eight points in the contest.

The Lady Rockets took a 40-33 lead into the fourth quarter that began with a Yost three-point play on a drive to the basket, something that would become the theme of the period for Forrest.

After one free throw by Kinsley Logan, Hengesbach found her rhythm on the run, scoring a three-point play on a drive in traffic and then again moments later, opening up a big 49-38 lead with 5:04 remaining in the contest, forcing a Moore County timeout.

"They were just openings, my teammates cut at the right time and opened it up for me," Hengesbach said. "There were a couple of times I had to ask my teammates if it went in because it was so physical."

Hengesbach spoiled the Raiderettes game plan out of the stoppage, stealing the ball and feeding Yost for another three-point play, making it a 14-point game.

From there, every possession was hotly contested, but a 13-for-17 effort from the free throw line in the fourth quarter sealed the win for Forrest.

The Lady Rockets played at Huntland in a make-up game on Wednesday before hosting Fayetteville tonight for the 100 years of Forrest Lady Rocket basketball celebration and Homecoming ceremonies.

"Huntland's a good team and after we win that that will really show the district we are here to play and we are here to go all the way," Hengesbach said.

Moore County 11 10 14 16-51

Forrest 14 11 15 24-68

Moore County (51): Kursten Hawkins 23, Katie Thomas 12, Kinsley Logan 10, Faith Cauble 6

3-point goals (7): Cauble 2, Hawkins 2, Thomas 2, Logan

Free throws (11-for-16): Hawkins 6-for-6, Logan 5-for-6, Taylor Holcombe 0-for-2, Thomas 0-for-2

Forrest (68): Caitlyn Yost 23, Kyleah Hengesbach 17, Jaide Langley 8, Madison Curtis 5, Laura Mealer 5, Katey Harmon 4, Grace Thrasher 2

3-point goals (6): Yost 3, Langley 2, Mealer

Free throws (21-for-33): Hengesbach 8-for-11, Yost 4-for-6, Harmon 4-for-8, Langley 2-for-2, Thrasher 2-for-4, Curtis 1-for-2

Halftime score: Forrest 25, Moore County 21