Lady Rockets capture 55th Annual World Tournament crown

Friday, January 27, 2017
The 2016-2017 World Tournament champion FMS Lady Rockets. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The 55th Annual World Tournament at Chapel Hill was pared down to just four teams this year because of the vote by the Duck River Valley Conference members at the beginning of the school session to rotate the DRVC Tournament site.

It didn't matter to the Forrest Lady Rockets, who pulled off a big upset over 2A Page in round one before taking down Cannon County 36-25 in the title game Saturday for back-to-back tournament titles.

"I think we knocked off the rust in each game we played and today was the best we have played since Christmas," FMS coach David Junkins. "I'm very pleased with the back-to-back titles and after we have our tryouts in a couple of months, we will work to make it three-in-a-row."

Carissa Curtis had another huge performance for Forrest, leading all scorers in the contest with 19 points, including five long range 3-pointers.

FMS' Karley Daughrity (5) and the Lady Rockets came ready to play in the World Tournament championship game Saturday at Chapel Hill.

Curtis, along with Amanda Jett (8 pts.) and Jenna Blanton (5 pts.) were voted to the All-Tournament Team.

Blanton started the game with a steal and score for the Lady Rockets, who subsequently went into a cold shooting spell and fell behind 5-2 before Curtis drained the first of her 3-pointers with 1:18 remaining in the first quarter, tying the game at five.

It was the same score heading into period number two where Brandi Mason and Jett traded baskets before Kaitlyn Duggin buried a 3-pointer, giving the Lady Lions a 10-7 lead.

Curtis tied the game with a long missile and with less than two minutes to play in the first half, Alex Davenport banged in a bucket in the low post to put FMS in front 12-10.

Mason re-tied it again before Curtis rained home another 3-pointer with a few ticks left in the first half, giving the hometown girls a 15-12 lead at the break.

A Jett rebound and put-back, followed by a Curtis score off a pretty inbounds pass under the basket gave the Lady Rockets their biggest lead of the game at 19-12.

"That has been our mantra all season about establishing ourselves in the first three minutes of the second half and we have done that all year and it has paid off for us," Junkins said.

Three-pointers by Cannon County's Carrie George and Duggin bookended a Curtis field goal as the Lady Lions sliced the FMS lead to three points at 21-18.

Shelby Smithson made one-of-two from the free throw line for Cannon County and the third period ended on two successful free throws by Forrest's Karley Daughrity, making it a 23-19 contest, entering the final six minutes of play in the title tilt.

Blanton hit one foul shot and Jett two early in the fourth quarter as Forrest began to pull away and with 4:21 left in the game, Curtis banged in a 3-pointer in front of the home crowd sidelines, giving the Lady Rockets a double digit lead at 29-19.

"We moved the ball well, we hustled and took control in the second half and steadily pulled away," Junkins said.

Smithson scored for Cannon County and the Lady Lions stayed in the game with a steal, but just like all season, Jett came up huge, swiping the rock and taking it the distance for a layup, making it a 10-point game again.

Forrest selections to the All-Tournament Team from left are Amanda Jett, Carissa Curtis and Jenna Blanton.

Cannon County had no answer as Forrest won by 11 points to finish their season with a sparkling 23-2 record.

"I think coach (Jeremy) Jean is licking his chops, there is a load of talent there," Junkins said. "With the freshmen group he has this year and the freshman group he will have next year there are some post players, there are some guards, there are some points guards, so hopefully they will all continue to be successful in high school."

Page beat Eagleville 44-14 in the consolation game.

Cannon County 5 7 7 6-25

FMS 5 10 8 13-36

Cannon County (25): Shelby Smithson 8, Bradi Mason 7, Carrie George 6, Kaitlyn Duggin 3, Shelby Parker 1

3-point goals (3): George 2, Duggin

Free throws (4-for-13): Smithson 2-for-5, Mason 1-for-4, Parker 1-for-4

FMS (36): Carissa Curtis 19, Amanda Jett 8, Jenna Blanton 5, Karley Daughrity 2, Alex Davenport 2

3-point goals (5): Curtis 5

Free throws (5-for-11): Blanton 3-for-6, Daughrity 2-for-2, Davenport 0-for-2, Jett 0-for-1

Halftime score: FMS 15, Cannon County 12