FMS Lady Rockets upset Page in World Tournament

Friday, January 27, 2017
Carissa Curtis (34) poured in a game-high 21 points in the FMS Lady Rockets' 34-32 upset win over Page in Thursday night's World Tournament at Forrest. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

After Page Middle School recently beat FMS 46-31, the Lady Panthers came into the 55th Annual World Tournament at Chapel Hill as the favorites to win the four-team event.

The Lady Rockets had other ideas and they backed it up with a game plan for success that turned into an exciting 34-32 win in Thursday night's opening round game that was well played the entire 24 minutes.

"Page is talented and well coached, definitely one of the best teams we played this season," FMS coach David Junkins said. "We went in with a different game plan and modified it as the night went on. Our team is very smart and coachable, which allowed us to set up a couple of situations that we had not gone over in practice."

With the Lady Panthers keying on Jenna Blanton because of her performance in the first matchup between the two teams, Carissa Curtis saw a bevy of open looks at the basket and took advantage, scoring a game-high 21 points.

"Carissa is a really good player and took advantage of the opportunities she had," Junkins said. "The combination of Curtis, (Amanda) Jett and Blanton allows us to expose weaknesses in the opponent's defense."

Junkins was right about that as Jett continued her great season with a solid game in the low post, including four of her eight points in the paint at the outset of the pivotal fourth quarter.

Page led by one point at the end of the first quarter and extended the margin to seven points at 19-12 with two minutes remaining in the first half.

Jenna Blanton (3) bangs down a 3-pointer at the end of the first half in FMS' two-point win over the Lady Panthers.

Curtis banged home a 3-pointer to slice the lead to four points and Blanton made it a one-point game when she drained a trey with 10 seconds left in the first half.

In a low scoring third period, Curtis and Jett had the only two buckets for Forrest, while Page got a field goal by Katie Walker and a late 3-pointer by Abby Ward to take a 24-22 into the fourth quarter.

Jett scored on a rebound and put-back early in the stanza and Curtis came up with a jump shot in the lane to put the Lady Rockets in front 26-24.

After a Ward basket, the FMS duo did it again with the Jett bucket making it 30-26.

"We are blessed to have Angela in the post, she plays the game with every ounce of fiber she has," Junkins commented. "Many of our opponents have commented on how tall she is but in reality she's not much taller than any of the other starters, she just plays bigger than what she really is."

Curtis scored again after a Page turnover and it seemed like the Lady Rockets were in good shape for the win with just over two minutes to play in the game.

The talented Lady Panthers had no intention of throwing in the towel as they scored six straight points, tying the game at 32 with 57 seconds remaining in the contest.

"Both teams came ready to play and had very few fouls," Junkins said. "I believe they both came into the game having great focus."

Curtis scored 20 seconds later to put FMS in front 34-32 and Page called timeout with 28.8 seconds left.

The Lady Panthers made a blunder, turning the ball over out of the stoppage, but incredibly FMS gave it right back on a miscue with 17.3 ticks remaining.

Amanda Jett comes up with a steal and is fouled on the way to the hoop by Page's Shelby Bass (4).

After a game full of clean play, Page turned it over again and this time it was the fatal miscue as the Rudderville girls never got the ball back and Chapel Hill celebrated the win and a berth in the tournament finals versus Cannon County.

After the game, Junkins talked about what the future holds for the World Tournament, an event that is a big tradition in the Chapel Hill community.

"The coaches and administration from Forrest wanted to continue the long tradition of the World Tournament," Junkins stated. "So, we decided to host a four team tournament this year during the transition with an eight team tournament coming next year."

Page 8 11 5 8-32

FMS 6 12 4 12-34

Page (32): Katie Walker 8, Mckenzie Cochran 7, LiLi Walker 5, Abby Ward 4, Alyssa Cohen 4, Shelby Bass 2

3-point goals (2): Walker, Cochran

Free throws (0-for-0):

Forrest (34): Carissa Curtis 21, Amanda Jett 8, Jenna Blanton 3, Kiersten Blalock 2

3-point goals (2): Blanton, Curtis

Free throws (0-for-3): Jett 0-for-2, Curtis 0-for-1

Halftime score: Page 19, FMS 18