Motivated Rockets down Fayetteville
The Forrest Rockets, inspired by the big crowd on hand at Chapel Hill Friday night for 100 Years of Forrest Lady Rockets Basketball and Homecoming used the energy to defeat Fayetteville 48-40.
"It was a big win, the crowd was really cool," Forrest coach Randy Tombs said. "It was a fun game to watch and coach and its fun for me when I can sit back and watch the kids play."
Forrest captured the big District 9A win with only five players tallying points in the scorebook with senior Austin Bailey leading the way with 12 points.
"I have so much respect for Austin, I'm very proud of the person and player he is becoming and I've never questioned his toughness or commitment to this program and his teammates."
The Rockets (4-17, 2-5) fell behind 5-2 early before a Sam Ford 3-pointer tied the game.
With the score once again knotted at 7-7 and moments later at 9-9, a Ty Hengesbach trey made it 12-9 before a bucket by Isiah Watkins made it a one-point contest, entering the second period.
Bailey began to really assert himself early in the second period with the Rockets leading 14-13 when he drained back-to-back 3-pointers.
"Austin has been a very important part of any success we have had and he is truly what a coach needs to control and run the team on the floor," Toombs said. "He has been a part of Forrest basketball since his 7th grade year and has worked very hard to get where he is."
The Forrest run continued on baskets by Ryley McClaran and Ford, making it 25-13, but Fayetteville came back with an 8-2 run to end the first half with the Rockets in front 27-21.
Jacob Rich kicked off the second half with a 3-pointer and after a Fayetteville basket, Rich drained another long bomb, opening up a 10-point lead for Forrest.
The Tigers dug in again and trailed by the same six-point margin they had at the half as the game entered the final eight minutes of action in Chapel Hill.
A basket by Ty Reese and two free throws by Watkins cut the Forrest lead to two points.
McClaran staved off the visitors with a 3-pointer and Hengesbach followed with a steal and dish to Rich on the run for a layup, giving the Rockets a 42-35 lead and forcing a Fayetteville timeout with 5:04 remaining in the game.
The Forrest defense did not allow another field goal the rest of the game and some clutch free throw shooting by Forrest down the stretch sealed the win for the Rockets.
"I know that sounds like I'm not coaching, but when you prepare a game plan and the team sticks to it, you kinda get out of their way and just instruct and manage the situational times," Toombs said. "I'm very proud of their total team effort and their ability to rely on each and every person that was in the game."
Ford finished with 10 points, Hengesbach and McClaran had nine points apiece and Rich scored eight points.
"That was the most balanced we have been all year," Toombs said.
Forrest has a big chance to try to move up in the standings for better positioning in the upcoming district tournament as they play three consecutive league games, beginning with hosting MTCS last night, followed by road games at Community and Eagleville.
"This second time through should give us a better look at where we really stand with each team if we are totally healthy," Toombs said. "But, we are not due to having a few sick and still nursing a couple of ankles injuries."
Fayetteville 11 10 10 9-40
Forrest 12 15 10 11-48
Fayetteville (40): Ty Reese 14, Jakious Clark 7, Isiah Watkins 7, Floyd Williams 6, Isiah Jones 4, Akoyia Dyer 2
Free throws (8-for-12): Watkins 5-for-6, Reese 2-for-4, Clark 1-for-2
Forrest (48): Austin Bailey 12, Sam Ford 10, Ty Hengesbach 9, Ryley McClaran 9, Jacob Rich 8
3-point goals (7): Bailey 2, Rich 2, McClaran, Ford, Hengesbach
Free throws (7-for-13): Hengesbach 4-for-6, Bailey 2-for-4, Ford 1-for-3
Halftime score: Forrest 27, Fayetteville 21