Rockets struggle in home loss to MTCS

Sunday, January 22, 2017
Austin Bailey takes the rock to the hole in the first half versus the Cougars. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The up and down Forrest Rockets took a nose dive on Tuesday at Chapel Hill, suffering an 81-59 blowout loss at the hands of #10 ranked Middle Tennessee Christian School.

The Rockets (4-18, 2-6) could not keep up with the District 9A first place Cougars (14-3, 8-0), who have won six in row and eight out of the last 10 games versus the Rockets.

"MTCS is a veteran tough team that went to the state last year," Forrest coach Randy Toombs said. "It's hard to fight their size and skill level at this moment."

Barr Ellenburg, who poured in 28 points in the Cougars' win over Forrest at Murfreesboro earlier this season came back with 20 points at Chapel Hill on Tuesday night.

Ellenburg was joined in double figure scoring by teammates Kavon Hill (14), Nate Howell (14) and Ben Phillips (11).

Sam Ford led the Rockets in the scoring column with 16 points, while Ty Hengesbach (15) and Ryley McClaran (13) also recorded double digits in the contest.

Back-to-back Hengesbach 3-pointers tied the game at 11-11 with 3:38 remaining in the first quarter before the Cougars went on a big 12-2 burst to end the period in front 23-13.

A Ford bomb to begin the second quarter cut the MTCS lead to seven points, but four straight points by the Cougars extended their lead back to 27-16.

Sam Ford, who led the Rockets in scoring with 16 points versus MTCS, buries one of his two 3-pointers in Forrest's 81-59 loss at Chapel Hill Tuesday night.

Ford scored in the low post to make it a nine-point game and that was the final time that the Rockets trailed by less than double digits in the game.

The Cougars began to run away and hide as they led 42-24 at the half and continued to increase the margin in the third period, winning the stanza 19-14 to take a big 61-38 margin to the fourth quarter.

The Rockets turned in a solid fourth quarter as they beat the Cougars 21-20 in the period with Jacob Rich, Ford and Hengesbach all draining 3-pointers for Forrest, who turn their attention to a road game at Community (7-13, 3-3) tonight.

Jacob Rich takes off on a fast break for the Rockets, who fell big to MTCS at home on Tuesday.

"We fought hard and will continue to strive for success with the little things for now," Toombs said. "We will move onto Community and let's see what we can accomplish there. We are still growing and it takes a few tough bumps on the way, but we are headed in the right direction."

MTCS 23 19 19 20-81

Forrest 13 11 14 21-59

MTCS (81): Barr Ellenburg 20, Nate Howell 14, Kavon Hill 14, Ben Phillips 11, Steven Turnham 9, Joseph Peck 8, Jared Keiser 3, Kemari McGowan 2

3-point goals (7): Howell 3, Phillips 2, Turnham, Ellenburg

Free throws (12-for-22): Howell 4-for-5, Ellenburg 4-for-9, Turnham 2-for-2, Phillips 1-for-2, Keiser 1-for-4

Forrest (59): Sam Ford 16, Ty Hengesbach 15, Ryley McClaran 13, Jacob Rich 8, Spencer McCown 2, Austin Bailey 2, Martin Stewart 2, Lofton Yeager 1

3-point goals (7): Hengesbach 4, Ford 2, Rich

Free throws (14-for-23): McClaran 5-for-6, Ford 4-for-6, Hengesbach 3-for-3, Yeager 1-for-2, Rich 1-for-2, McCown 0-for-2, Dylan Watt 0-for-2

Halftime score: MTCS 42, Forrest 24