Rockets drop non-conference game at Mt. Pleasant
With the District 9-1A tournament brackets already set, the boys from Chapel Hill traveled to Mt. Pleasant (17-6) on Monday to try and sharpen its game to get ready for Moore County on Saturday afternoon.
And although the five-win Rockets (5-23) squad have given most opponents all they could handle, losing nine games by six points or less, Forrest didn't put up much of a fight as the Tigers won going away by the score of 62-45.
"We didn't shoot the ball well," Forrest coach Randy Toombs said. "Even when we had opportunities to put it in down low we couldn't. I wanna say we were 3-for-15 in the first quarter in the paint and you can't compete that way."
"You’re looking at a team that's a little thinner than normal right now," Toombs continued. "We kind of take on the motto of no excuses and I hate throwing things out like 'oh I didn't have this guy or that guy' but it's pretty big right now going into the tournament that we get these boys back. We need them bad."
Despite the loss to the third place team from District 11-1A, the Rockets had bright spots in the game like a 24-point, six-rebound performance from junior shooting guard Jacob Rich or the six-point, five- rebound game from Tyler Wildrick down low.
Ty Hengesbach added five points, three assists, and three steals and Austin Bailey led the Rockets with six assists and a 3-point bucket.
"We're a 3-point shooting team," Rich explained. "We live and die by the three pretty much and the first half, I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing we were 0-for-8 from three, so we just weren't knocking our shots down."
The Tigers picked up huge games from Tez Rogers with 20 points and Zyshon Alderson with 18 points.
Mt. Pleasant jumped out to an 8-2 lead on an Alderson layup but the Rockets cut the lead down to two-points on a Hengesbach steal and layup two minutes later.
Rich drove into the thick of the Tiger defense for a layup with 28 seconds remaining in the opening quarter to keep the Rockets close at 12-8, but Alderson scored on a buzzer beating layup at the other end for the 14-8 Mt. Pleasant lead after one period.
Wildrick scored on a beautiful reverse layup a minute into the second quarter to pull the Rockets back to within six at 16-10 before the Tigers scored on back-to-back layups to extend the lead to 10 points with 4:45 remaining in the half.
Rich scored on a drive to the hoop on the next possession, but the Tigers answered with a Keshawn Hudson three to push the lead to 23-12.
Mitchell Everett picked up his first basket of the night on the next possession and Wildrick added a layup to cut the lead down to 23-16 with two minutes left in the first half, but that would be the closest the Rockets would get for the rest of the ballgame.
Rogers completed a three-point play to extend the Tiger lead to 36-16 with 4:39 left in the third and Hudson knocked home his second triple of the night and the third quarter buzzer sounded as the Mt. Pleasant lead ballooned to 46-24.
Rich went to work in the fourth quarter with two triples while Bailey and Hengesbach each knocked down a 3-pointer as the Rockets won the fourth quarter battle 21-16, but ultimately lost the war 62-45.
"We fought hard to the end," Toombs stated. "We turned it over probably more than I would have liked to. That's one uncharacteristic thing that we did, we didn't handle the ball very well."
The Rockets returned home for Senior Night against an unusually pedestrian Perry County (10-15) last night for a chance to work out the kinks before heading to Huntland on Saturday for the district play-in game against Moore County (1-22), who ended the Rockets season in the same scenario last year.
"We were all very confident last year that we were going to win and actually get into the District Tournament," Rich said. "So it's the same situation as last year where we beat them handily both times during the regular season."
"I think we'll be more ready to come out and play the third time knowing that if we don't come out with our 'A' game they can come out and upset us," Rich added.
Forrest 8 8 8 21-45
Mt. Pleasant 14 15 17 16-62
Forrest (45): Jacob Rich 24, Tyler Wildrick 6, Tim Elliott 5, Ty Hengesbach 5, Austin Bailey 3, Mitchell Everett 2
3-point goals (6): Rich 4, Bailey, Hengesbach
Mt. Pleasant (62): Tez Rogers 20, Zyshon Alderson 18, Keshawn Hudson 8, Jaleel Miller 6, Carson Russell 4, Hayden Lovely 2, Trey Johnson 2, Lorenzo Primm 2
3-point goals (2): Hudson 2
Halftime: Mt. Pleasant 29, Forrest 16