Heroics win the night at Forrest
The Forrest Rockets haven’t had the pleasure of celebrating their hard work this year with a lot ‘W’s’, but in Thursday night’s Senior Night special, euphoria was aplenty when Martin Stewart blocked Perry County’s last second winning attempt that resulted in a 56-54 win for Chapel Hill.
“What a way to end a great game like that one tonight,” Forrest coach Randy Toombs said. “That blocked shot was huge!”
Stewart joined a wagon full of Forrest heroes in the contest, including Jacob Rich, who seconds before the Stewart block drilled the go-ahead 3-pointer with a Perry County defender in his grill.
Rich had an incredible night as the long range sharpshooter had a game-high 23 points and six 3-pointers to lead an 11-trey performance by the Rockets.
Seniors Austin Bailey and Tim Elliot also knocked down one 3-pointer apiece in the game.
Ty Hengesbach, who had just two first half points, caught fire in the pivotal fourth quarter for the Rockets as the keen-eyed guard scored 12 points with nine coming on 3-pointers.
“Ty came on fire in the fourth which was huge,” Toombs said. “And Rich was his normal confident self from the 3-point arch.”
The Vikings are a long and tall squad and the Rockets had to play a tough game in the paint all night and they withstood the test.
“Stewart and (Tyler) Wildrick were solid inside fighting those big guys from Perry County,” Toombs said. “We also got really solid minutes from Evan Hampton as well.”
Rich rained home a three-bomb to start the game and Stewart followed with his lone field goal of the contest, but Perry County eventually game back to tie the game at 8.
Forrest went ahead 14-10 a few touches later on a Bailey 3-pointer and the Vikings fought back and trailed by one point, 16-15 after the first period.
The Vikings forged ahead 22-19 with a 7-3 run to start the second period before the Rockets responded with a 6-2 burst to end the first half on a pair of three-point plays the old-fashioned way by Wildrick and Rich.
A Justin Perry steal and score for the Vikings gave the Linden squad a 30-29 lead before Elliot buried a 3-pointer with 4:53 remaining in the third period to put the Rockets in front for the rest of the stanza.
The Vikings seemingly took control at the midway point of the fourth quarter, whipping off an 11-3 run to take a 47-40 lead with 4:28 left in the game.
Hengesbach added a three-point play to the Forrest total before two foul shots by Parker Brown edged the Vikings up by five points at 49-43.
Bailey hit two crucial free throws and a Perry County turnover led to a Hengesbach 3-pointer, slicing the Vikings’ lead to a single digit.
Baker scored on a layup at the other end before Hengesbach tied the game at 51 with a different zip code 3-pointer with 2:25 remaining in the contest.
The Vikings scored the next three points until Bailey scored on a runner with 36.6 seconds left to make it 54-53 and force a Perry County timeout.
The Linden boys coughed it up on an errant pass that ended up in the stands and at the other end, Rich rained home the go-ahead trey in front of his bench to put the Rockets in the lead 56-54.
Toombs called timeout to set the defense and the Vikings managed to get the ball down the floor into the low post, but Stewart was ready, swatting the ball away as the horn sounded to end the game.
“Martin had to block him or give up a put in, so he made the right choice,” Toombs said. “And I think the guys in the stripes weren’t going be the ones to decide the ending to that one----I mean they went to the line 26 times to our 8, so the last one had to be a no call.”
The Rockets (6-23) hope to use the momentum from the game as a catalyst for a victory when they take on Moore County (2-23) tomorrow in the District 9A Tournament play-in game at 2:30 in Huntland.
“Hopefully we can continue this style of play tomorrow versus Moore County,” Toombs said. “We are gonna go at them like always and I'm sure coach (Lavon) King has a junk defense ready for my shooters.”
“Its post-season time, where all records are thrown out and may the best playing team win,” Toombs added. “This should be a fun one.”
Perry County 15 9 12 18-54
Forrest 16 9 12 19-56
Perry County (54): Parker Brown 20, Jordan Baker 12, Justin Perry 9, Brock Young 6, Samuel Faust 4, Parker Hinson 3
3-point goals (3): Young, Hinson, Baker
Free throws (15-for-26): Baker 5-for-5, Brown 4-for-8, Perry 3-for-6, Faust 2-for-5, Young 1-for-2
Forrest (56): Jacob Rich 23, Ty Hengesbach 14, Austin Bailey 9, Tim Elliot 5, Tyler Wildrick 3, Martin Stewart 2
3-point goals (11): Rich 6, Hengesbach 3, Elliot, Bailey
Free throws (5-for-8): Bailey 2-for-2, Hengesbach 1-for-1, Wildrick 1-for-1, Rich 1-for-4
Halftime score: Forrest 35, Perry County 34