Lady Rockets let one slip away

Friday, February 17, 2017
Kyleah Hengesbach (4), who led the Lady Rockets with 16 points, throws down a left-handed runner to give Forrest a 15-8 lead in the second quarter.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest Lady Rockets let the host Lady Hornets off the hook in the second District 9A Tournament semifinal game Thursday night at Huntland, losing 50-42.

“I think playing them at their place with a packed house against us gave them the advantage, but we still had some shots that we usually make not fall,” Forrest coach Jeremy Jean said. “It was a great atmosphere to play in.”

With the loss, Forrest plays Community in the consolation game on Saturday before hitting the road for the first-round of the Region 6A Tournament next week versus an undermined opponent from District 10A, which plays its semifinals tonight.

“It will be a little tougher than getting to host, but once the region starts we have the same opportunity as the other seven to get to the next step,” Jean said.

In the first semifinal, Community also let one fall through its fingers as Moore County standout Kursten Hawkins went coast-to-coast for a buzzer-beating layup, sending the # 2 ranked Lady Raiders to Saturday night’s championship game via a 43-42 win.

Emma Stacey (5) knocks in a 3-pointer at the end of the first period in Forrest’s 50-42 loss at Huntland in Thursday night’s District 9A Tournament semifinal.

Forrest didn’t seem to have any leftover rust after not playing for a week leading up to the game as they led 13-8 after the first period.

Huntland scored four straight points to begin period number two before Kyleah Hengesbach nailed a 3-pointer to make it an 18-12 ballgame.

Forrest did not score again in the second quarter as Caylee McLennan scorched the Lady Rockets, scoring 10-out-of the next 12 Huntland points to give the Lady Hornets a 24-18 halftime lead.

Forrest chipped away at the Huntland lead and after Hengesbach scored to make it a one-point contest at 29-28 a subsequent missed shot by the Lady Hornets was followed by a Madison Curtis rebound at the other end, giving the Lady Rockets a 30-29 lead with 1:16 remaining in the third quarter.

“We came out playing really well in the first quarter and early in the second,” Jean stated. “They finished the half on a 12-0 run, but we responded in the third to take the lead.”

Jaide Langley and McLennan traded baskets before Caitlyn Yost nailed a 3-pointer to close out the period with Forrest in front 35-31.

A Tara Cates 3-pointer to kick off the fourth quarter sparked an 8-0 Huntland run as the Lady Hornets took the lead at 39-35.

Forrest fought back again, eventually tying the game at 41 on a Hengesbach steal and score with two minutes remaining in the game.

Unfortunately for Forrest, poor free throw shooting cost them the game as they went 0-for-3 on three one-and-one situations from the charity stripe and Huntland cashed in with a 9-1 run to end the game and seal the win.

“We make some of those (free throws) and it's a different game,” Jean said. “We don't have to foul them and we can just play defense, which overall we played really well.”

McLennan led the Lady Hornets with 16 points, while Class A Miss Basketball finalist Ali Golden had 13 points and Kara Smith was also in double figures for Huntland with 10 points.

In the fourth we had every opportunity to win the game,” Jean said. “Huntland just executed better than we did in that quarter and they made the easy ones and we didn't.”

Hengesbach was the lone Lady Rocket in double figures in the scoring column with 16 points to tie McLennan’s game-high output.

Huntland 8 16 7 19-50

Forrest 13 5 17 7-42

Huntland (50): Caylee McLennan 16, Ali Golden 13, Kara Smith 10, Morgan Sims 6, Tara Cates 5

3-point goals (7): Smith 2, McLennan 2, Sims 2, Cates

Free throws (7-for-8): Golden 3-for-3, Cates 2-for-2, Smith 2-for-2, McLennan 0-for-1

Forrest (42): Kyleah Hengesbach 16, Caitlyn Yost 9, Madison Curtis 4, Laura Mealer 4, Grace Thrasher 4, Emma Stacey 3, Jaide Langley 2

3-point goals (3): Hengesbach, Stacey, Yost

Free throws (5-for-12): Curtis 2-for-2, Yost 2-for-4, Hengesbach 1-for-4, Mealer 0-for-2

Halftime score: Huntland 24, Forrest 18