Rockets let one slip away

Friday, December 8, 2017
Spencer McCown nails one of his three 3-pointers on the night for the Rockets, who fell by one point to McEwen Tuesday night at Chapel Hill.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest Rockets lost a heartbreaker Tuesday night at Chapel Hill, falling to McEwen 55-54 when they could not get a potential game tying shot off after holding the ball for the last minute of the game.

“Last night was a tough loss to swallow,” Forrest coach Randy Toombs said. “We gave ourselves a chance and we didn't finish.”

“We tried to get an ISO with a player on the wing and we just didn't execute what we had in place to run.”

Forrest is 0-8 on the season and 5-27 under Toombs, who took over from Wes Hobbs in 2015.

The Rockets have not had a winning season since 2012-2013 when they went 19-12.

“We have had a rough start to the season, but I seriously don't think it can get any more difficult,” Toombs said. “This is a great bunch of young men and they will work through this stretch.”

Toombs was dealt a serious blow when junior Ty Hengesbach went down with a wrist injury early in the season.

“I just got the report Ty will be out for two more weeks, he is missed more than I can express,” Toombs stated.

Hengesbach is the team’s leading scorer and general on the floor and is especially adept at taking and making game winning shots.

“Ty has been with me since the seventh grade and this is a first without him on the floor,” Toombs said. “Now he sees from having a different perspective and hopefully learning from it.”

The one-point loss was the closest of the season for the Rockets, who did get a balanced scoring attack versus the Warriors with Ryley McClaran scoring 15, Sam Ford 13, Spencer McCown 12, Cameron Curtis 9, Jacob Rich 3, and Mitchell Everett 2.

Forrest started the game fast, going up 7-2 after a McClaran 3-pointer, but the Warriors came back to cut the lead to two points at 10-8.

A Ford rebound and put-back, followed by two McClaran free throws gave the Rockets a 14-8 lead after the first quarter.

An Isaac Carter bucket capped off an 8-0 run to start the second quarter for McEwen, forcing a Forrest timeout with the game tied at 16.

Cameron Curtis goes up for a rebound put-back to give the Rockets a 21-16 second quarter lead.

Another McClaran bomb and a Curtis put-back gave the Rockets a 21-16 lead, but once again McEwen answered, going on a 10-4 run to take a 26-25 lead with less than a minute to go in the second quarter.

McCown came up big for the Rockets when he scored the last basket of the first half, making it a 27-26 ballgame.

The lead seesawed back and forth for much of the third quarter until the Warriors held a one-point lead on a three-point play by Hayden Colston.

Ford drilled a 3-pointer to seize back the lead at 43-41 and McClaran added two more points to the margin on a driving layup as time ran out in the third period.

Jonathan Lutz, who led all scorers with 16 points, tallied a bucket to begin the fourth quarter for the Warriors before Ford banged home his final trey of the game to give the Rockets a 48-43 lead.

McEwen turned the tables on the Rockets, running off 10 unanswered points to go up 53-48 with 3:32 left in the game.

McClaran singlehandedly brought the Rockets back, scoring six straight points to give the home team a 54-53 lead at the 1:16 mark.

A Walker Tummins rebound and score gave the Warriors a one-point lead with just under a minute to go when Toombs decided to take the air out of the ball.

Forrest called timeouts with 19.4 and 13.4 seconds left in the game to set up a play, but when the ball when to Jacob Rich after a wild scramble, Robbie Rusciano came up with a blocked shot and time ran out.

Forrest travels to Summertown tonight to take on the unbeaten Eagles (7-0), who have beaten the Rockets 8 out of the last 10 times and Forrest has not won at Summertown since 2013.

McEwen 8 18 15 14-55

Forrest 14 13 18 9-54

McEwen (55): Jonathan Lutz 16, Walker Tummins 13, Robbie Rusciano 9, Isaac Carter 6, Hayden Colston 5, Caleb Wilson 4, Braden Tummins 2

3-point Goals: (1): Rusciano

Free Throws (6-for-8): Walker Tummins 3-for-4, Wilson 2-for-2, Colston 1-for-1, Lutz 0-for-1

Forrest (54): Ryley McClaran 15, Sam Ford 13, Spencer McCown 12, Cameron Curtis 9, Jacob Rich 3, Mitchell Everett 2

3-point Goals (10): McCown 3, Ford 3, McClaran 2, Rich 1, Curtis 1

Free Throws (4-for-6): McClaran 3-for-4, McCown 1-for-2

Halftime Score: Forrest 27, McEwen 26