Rockets beat Raiders, meet again soon in play-in game
The Forrest Rockets’ trip to Lynchburg Friday night was semi-sweet as the Rockets beat the Raiders 54-40 to earn a coin flip with Fayetteville at Saturday morning’s District 9A meeting to stay out of the district tournament play-in on February 11 versus the same Moore County squad.
“I’m very proud of the effort,” Forrest coach Randy Toombs said. “The boys stayed focused on the entire game and it was very productive.”
Unfortunately, the Rockets (5-23, 3-9) lost the toss to Fayetteville (6-19, 3-9) and will meet the Raiders (1-22, 0-12) in a 2:30 p.m. start at Huntland on Saturday.
“I lost the toss, but the road in the post season isn't going to be an easy one,” Toombs stated. “These guys haven't had anything easy all year and we wouldn't have it any other way.”
The 14-point win at Moore County Friday was the second win of the year over the Raiders, who also lost to the Rockets 68-61 on January 10 at Chapel Hill.
“Saturday will be a tough one,” Toombs said. “They are getting back a kid who has been injured the entire season, but is a force inside so maybe we can adjust a little for that.”
In the same scenario last year, the Raiders knocked the Rockets out of the district tournament, marking the second time in two years that Moore County ended Forrest’s season.
A Sam Ford bucket off a pass from Ty Hengesbach kicked off the contest at Lynchburg, but the Rockets did not lead again in the first quarter as the Raiders came out strong and took an 18-12 lead into the second period.
A Jacob Rich 3-pointer made it a three-point game before Isaac Holt scored on back-to-back possessions for Moore County.
Hengesbach drilled a 3-pointer, lighting a fire under the Rockets, who finished the first half with a 12-0 run as Hengesbach added seven more points, while Rich drained his third trey of the game and Austin Bailey scored on a drive to the rack.
The Rockets took a 28-22 lead to the second half and made it a 10-point game as Ford and Rich converted the first two field goals of the third quarter.
Midway through the period the lead was still at 10 points when the Rockets exploded again, going on a 10-0 burst beginning with a Ford 3-pointer and by the time Tyler Wildrick scored late in the low post for the Rockets, the lead ballooned to 20 points.
Burnett managed a 3-pointer on the Raiders’ final touch of the third quarter to make it a 47-30 ballgame, entering the final period.
Forrest wasted little time putting the game away as Wildrick, Rich and Bailey scored to kick off the fourth quarter, giving the Rockets a 53-30 lead.
Wildrick came up with a free throw to put the seal on the win for the Rockets, who were led in the scoring column by 17 Hengesbach points.
Rich (15 pts.) and Bailey (10) were also in double digits for the Rockets, while Ford ended up with seven points and Wildrick chipped in with five markers.
“Our three guards shot well and we went to the boards strong again,” Toombs said. “Their big scorer Julius Dixon wasn't on his game and I hope switching up defenses caused a little of that.”
Dixon, who had 16 points in the Chapel Hill game managed just two points in Lynchburg, while Burnett was the lone Moore County player in double-digits with 16 points.
Forrest 13 15 19 7-54
Moore County 18 4 8 10-40
Forrest (54): Ty Hengesbach 17, Jacob Rich 15, Austin Bailey 10, Sam Ford 7, Tyler Wildrick 5
3-point goals (7): Hengesbach 3, Rich 3, Ford
Free throws (11-for-16): Bailey 6-for-9, Hengesbach 4-for-5, Wildrick 1-for-2
Moore County (40): Clay Burnett 16, Ethan Holt 5, Matthew Schuler 5, Andrew Copeland 4, Issac Holt 4, Julius Dixon 2, Payce Warren 2, Garrett Jennings 2
3-point goals (3): Burnett 2, Ethan Holt
Free throws (2-for-4): Schuler 1-for-2, Copeland 1-for-2