Rockets slipping lower after loss at Eagleville

Friday, January 27, 2017
Ty Hengesbach (5) drains one of his three 3-pointers at Eagleville Tuesday night. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest Rockets are slipping further down in the District 9A standings after dropping their third league game in a row via a 72-51 loss at Eagleville Tuesday night.

"Eagleville was very physical, athletic and senior loaded, so it is very difficult to defend them," Forrest coach Randy Toombs said. "They have been the only district team that we struggled with twice."

Forrest (4-20, 2-8) is in sixth place in the league standings and is headed for a District 9A Tournament play-in game matchup with Moore County (1-20, 0-10) on February 11 at Huntland.

Ty Hengesbach continued his stellar senior season with 13 points at Eagleville, including three 3-pointers.

Martin Stewart (32), who scored five points in the Rockets' 72-51 loss at Eagleville Tuesday, makes a move in the low post.

Freshman Ryley McClaran pitched in 13 points for the Rockets and one 3-pointer, while Sam Ford had nine points, Jacob Rich seven, Martin Stewart added five points, Austin Bailey had one 3-pointer and Spencer McCown scored two points.

The Eagles had big offensive production as four players' tallied double-digits in the scoring column with Austin Strickland leading the way with 17 points and one trey.

Ethan Cobb and Erick Hawks had 15 points apiece and Graham Hatcher netted 13.

Eagleville (11-11, 6-3) also turned in a solid 10-for-11 effort from the free throw line in the contest.

McClaran opened up the game with a basket for Forrest before Eagleville ran off nine points in a row.

The Rockets came back as McClaran scored five in a row, including his first of two 3-pointers in the game that made it 9-7 late in the period.

Strickland and Hawks scored on back-to-back possessions for Eagleville and Ford scored in the low post for the Rockets before the first quarter ended on a Hawks jumper, making it 15-9 Eagles.

Forrest dug even deeper to begin the second quarter as Bailey and Jacob Rich nailed back-to-back 3-pointers, tying the game at 15 with 5:16 remaining in the first half.

Bryson Kelley netted a field goal for Eagleville before his teammate Strickland took over, scoring seven straight points to put Forrest in a hole that grew to 10 points at the break, 29-19.

"We tried to slow the game down, but running teams will get some transition baskets on you, so you just try to minimize that part of their game," Toombs said.

The third period totally belonged to Eagleville as they outscored the Rockets 25-13 with Cobb coming up with nine points in the paint for the Eagles, who led by 16 points at the end of the quarter.

Ryley McClaran (10) drives to the baseline versus the Eagles.

"We are trying to get some size in there (low post) because we are almost in the zero column with offensive rebounding stats," Toombs said. "We continue to struggle in the paint."

The Rockets did most of their damage in the third quarter from beyond the three-point arc as Hengesbach went wild with all three of his treys in the stanza, while McClaran and Ford also nailed one 3-pointer apiece.

Both coached emptied their benches in the fourth quarter as the Eagles cruised to the 22-point win.

The Rockets take a small break as they have off tonight before travelling to McEwen on Monday and they follow that up with a home game versus Huntland on Tuesday and back on the road to Moore County next Friday.

"The days off are going to be nice," Toombs said. "We have two huge district games left and we have got to get one of them for sure."

Forrest 9 10 19 13-51

Eagleville 15 14 25 18-72

Forrest (51): Ty Hengesbach 13, Ryley McClaran 12, Sam Ford 9, Jacob Rich 7, Martin Stewart 5, Austin Bailey 3, Spencer McCown 2

3-point goals (8): Hengesbach 3, McClaran 2, Bailey, Ford, Rich

Free throws (5-for-7): Stewart 3-for-4, McCown 2-for-2, Tim Elliot 0-for-1

Eagleville (72): Austin Strickland 17, Ethan Cobb 15, Eric Hawks 15, Graham Hatcher 13, Evan Rivers 5, Matthew Boyett 4, Bryson Kelley 2, Cody Pepper 1

3-point goals (5): Kelley 2, Rivers, Strickland, Boyett

Free throws (10-for-11): Cobb 3-for-3, Hawks 3-for-3, Rivers 2-for-2, Pepper 1-for-1, Boyett 1-for-2

Halftime score: Eagleville 29, Forrest 19