Rockets break through, beat Lincoln County for first win

Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Ryley McClaran poured in 22 points to lead the Rockets to their first win of the season.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The losing streak is over.

After 10 consecutive losses to begin the season, the Forrest Rockets broke through with an inspired 68-55 win over 3A Lincoln County Monday night at Chapel Hill.

“That was a good win, I’m putting it lightly, that was a really good win,” Forrest coach Randy Toombs said. “That was a good basketball team we played against.”

Freshman Ryley McClaran scored 22 points to lead all scorers, including 11 points and three 3-pointers in the all-important third period when the Rockets made their comeback.

Sam Ford had the other five points in the third quarter and 12 in the game.

Senior Mitchell Everette came up with a big game in the low post for Forrest, scoring 9 points in the paint.

Cameron Curtis scored 10 points, Mitchell Everette had 9, and Martin Stewart netted four points in the low post for the Rockets.

Jacob Rich had six points, but they were huge as the senior banged home two crucial 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

Spencer McCown had all five of his points in the first period.

“Everybody contributed like they are capable of and that’s cool,” Toombs said. “When they do their jobs with the ability they got and start understanding don’t do the things they are not good at, we will be pretty good.”

The Falcons, who beat Forrest by 10 points earlier in the season, took an early lead and held it at 14-11 after the first quarter.

The Rockets remained right on the Falcons’ wings, finally tying the game at 18 on two Stewart free throws before McClaran gave Forrest the lead with a drive to the hoop.

After a Cameron Curtis bucket put Forrest up 24-21 things went south for the Rockets as they began to fumble away the ball every time down the court and it cost them as they trailed 34-27 at the half.

Instead of reverting back, the Rockets stepped up and clawed their way back into the contest, eventually tying the game on back-to-back baskets by McClaran with 2:56 remaining in the third quarter.

Lincoln County called timeout and missed after the stoppage, setting up a deep McClaran 3-pointer that gave Forrest a 41-38 lead.

The Falcons dug in and scored two baskets bookended around a Ford rebound and put-back to take a one-point lead to the fourth quarter.

“There were seven guys who contributed tonight and it was fun to watch,” Toombs said. “Sam played really good tonight.”

Jacob Rich buries the first of his two crucial 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of the Rockets’ 68-55 win over Lincoln County Monday night at Chapel Hill.

The Rockets called timeout with 4:13 to go in the contest, trailing 49-48 when things turned around for good as Rich drilled a 3-pointer from the corner and McClaran came up with a transition basket off a Lincoln County turnover to make it a 54-48 contest.

An offensive foul on Lincoln County was cashed in on another Rich 3-pointer from the same spot and after another Falcon miscue, Ford put the game away with a resounding bucket in the paint to give the Rockets a big 57-48 lead with two minutes to go in the game.

“I have all the confidence in Rich and he knows it, he just has to have it in himself,” Toombs said. “I told him you are going to be my man whether you fail, succeed or be mediocre, so you just have to get over it and turn that brain off and play basketball.”

McClaran nailed his seventh and final 3-pointer of the game to give the Rockets their biggest lead at 14 points moments later as the home team secured the win.

Forrest (1-10) takes on Lewis County (4-3) Friday night at Chapel Hill before going to Wartrace on Tuesday to take on longtime foe Cascade.

“That’ll be a good test and a nice revenge game for us, they (Lewis County) really came out and stuck it to us hard,” Toombs said. “They came out with full court pressure and ran up and down the floor and we didn’t do good in transition.”

“We don’t want it to be anything but tough because we have to start our district in January and we want to be ready.”

Lincoln County 14 20 10 11-55

Forrest 11 16 16 25-68

Lincoln County (55): Kyle Clem 18, Ben Bassham 10, Holt Richardson 9, Neyland Jean 9, Jailen Brown 4, Caden Jacks 4, Devin Gifford 1

3-point Goals (3): Clem, Brown, Jean

Free Throws (14-for-19): Clem 7-for-9, Bassham 2-for-2, Jean 2-for-2, Richardson 1-for-2, Brown 1-for-2, Gifford 1-for-2

Forrest (68): Ryley McClaran 22, Sam Ford 12, Cameron Curtis 10, Mitchell Everette 9, Jacob Rich 6, Spencer McCown 5, Martin Stewart 4

3-point Goals (7): McClaran 4, Rich 2, Ford

Free Throws (11-for-13): Ford 3-for-4, McClaran 2-for-2, Curtis 2-for-2, Stewart 2-for-2, McCown 1-2, Everette 1-for-1

Halftime Score: Lincoln County 34, Forrest 27