Lady Rockets bounce back with win
The Forrest Lady Rockets returned to the court Monday night, coming off arguably their worst performance of the season in a 24-point loss to Moore County last Friday in a game that would have locked up first place with a win in the ultra-competitive District 9A.
Forrest had little time to dwell on the loss as Monday's opponent featured Mt. Pleasant, who is tied for second place in District 11A.
The Lady Rockets ended the regular season Tuesday in Chapel Hill against Perry County, a team that participated in the state tournament in Murfreesboro last season.
Mt. Pleasant gave the Lady Rockets a run for its money by going into the half down just one-point before Forrest pulled away for an impressive 14-point win.
"I think the first half they made us play sloppy," Forrest coach Jeremy Jean said. "Second half, we played better offensively, spaced the floor better, made more shots, and made better decisions."
"First half I felt like we forced it a few times and when we did get up the shots we just didn't shoot it very well," Jean explained. "We hadn't had a problem with that until last Friday against Moore County, so when things are going tough we've got to find a way to continue doing what we've been doing all year long."
The Lady Rockets were led by Belmont signee Caitlyn Yost, who finished with 25 points.
Fellow senior Kyleah Hengesbach scored 10 points, had six rebounds, five assists, and two steals, and eighth grade standout Laura Mealer finished with a game-high14 rebounds, nine points, and a block.
"We just came off a big loss to Moore County and we definitely wanted to get that taste out of our mouth, especially going into the tournament," Yost said.
The Tigers were led by all-time leading scorer Alyssa Lemay with 22 points and 10 points from Kati Woodson.
The two teams battled back and forth through the first quarter as the two senior leaders for each team went toe-to-toe with Yost and Lemay each scoring eight points as the initial frame ended in a 13-13 tie.
Yost put the Lady Rockets up 16-13 on a 3-pointer to start the second quarter.
After a Tiger bucket, Madison Curtis scored on a layup, followed by a Hengesbach long 2-pointer to put the visitors up 20-15 with 4:41 left in the first half.
Forrest looked ready to blow the game open after Yost pulled down a rebound and went coast-to-coast for the layup for Forrest’s biggest lead at 22-15, but Lemay struck again with a triple at the 59 second mark before beating the halftime buzzer with another 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one point at 22-21 heading into the break.
Forrest started a third quarter run when freshman Jaide Langley hustled past a Mt. Pleasant player to grab a ball that looked to be headed out of bounds and fed Yost for a layup.
On the next possession, Grace Thrasher grabbed a rebound and threw the rock to a streaking Yost for a lay-in and scored down low on the next possession.
Yost ended the run on the following series with a 3-point bomb forcing Mt. Pleasant to call a timeout to regroup after going down 35-25.
Hengesbach scored on a pull-up jumper after a Lemay triple to push the lead to 11 at 39-28, but the Lady Tigers outscored the Lady Rockets 4-1 to end the quarter to remaining within striking distance at 40-32.
Alicia Auges knocked down two free throws to make it a six-point game, but Mealer knocked down a 3-pointer and Langley knocked down two free throws and a long 2-point jumper to finally put Mt. Pleasant away for good at 56-42.
"We definitely spaced the floor better on offense in the second half," Hengesbach said. "We started off 0-for-7 in the first half and we can't really do that and expect to win. We almost dug ourselves into a hole so we kind of came out in the second half and started putting the ball into the basket."
The Lady Rockets return home Thursday night for a tough Senior Night game against Perry County before getting ready for an always difficult District 9-A Tournament.
"We need to get better at not letting people drive on us," Yost said. "We just need to work on defense a little bit and go in there and get some shots to go down because our confidence is a little low right now. We haven't been hitting much the past few games, so we'll work on defense and get some shots up and we'll be alright for the tournament."
Forrest 13 11 16 16-56
Mt. Pleasant 13 10 9 10-42
Forrest (56): Caitlyn Yost 25, Kyleah Hengesbach 10, Laura Mealer 9, Grace Thrasher 6, Jaide Langley 4, Madison Curtis 2
3-point goals (3): Yost 2, Mealer
Mt. Pleasant (42): Alyssa Lemay 22, Kati Woodson 10, Alicia Auges 6, I'myia Hall 3, McKenzie English 2
3-point goals (4): Lemay 3, Woodson
Halftime score: Forrest 24, Mt. Pleasant 23