Rockets pull out win over Champions

Friday, December 22, 2017
Forrest’s Cameron Curtis goes high to the glass, putting the Rockets in front for good after stealing the ball in the fourth quarter.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

After an 0-10 start to the season, the Forrest Rockets have won three straight with the latest coming on a real gut check Tuesday night at Cascade when Chapel Hill came from behind to win 60-48.

The Rockets had a lackluster first half before turning it on with a 16-point third quarter and a monster 26-point fourth period.

“Gutting it out is an understatement,” Forrest coach Randy Toombs said. “We took a first half of a lethargically almost non-existent defense play and an offense that did not take it to them like we can and turned it over in the second half and strategically---a little bit at a time and inched our way back in it.”

Senior Jacob Rich led all scorers in the game with 22 points and a sparkling 14-for-14 performance from the free throw line, including an ice cold 11-for-11 effort in the fourth quarter to seal the contest.

Ryley McClaran turned in a solid effort with 15 points, two 3-pointers, and a perfect 3-for-3 effort from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter.

Cameron Curtis scored nine points and came up with his biggest bucket of his career when he stole the ball and scored to put the Rockets in front for good with 5:22 remaining in the contest.

“We started off slow, but we all knew what we are capable of and we came on strong in the end,” Curtis said. “Coach told us at the half that we had to get on the boards, cut the turnovers, and just play our game and that’s what we did.”

Spencer McCown and Sam Ford had six points apiece and Martin Stewart netted a pair of free throws.

Jaden Russell led Cascade with 12 points.

In a sloppy first quarter, the Rockets led 5-0 for the first six minutes of the game until Russell finally scored on a bucket in the paint.

Cascade forged ahead 8-7 early in the second period on a three-point play by Russell and led by seven twice with the second time coming on a buzzer beater by Jake Vincent, ending the first half with the Champions in front 25-18.

Two free throws by Brandon Heath at the outset of the second half gave Cascade its biggest lead of the game at nine points.

The two teams traded baskets and then the Rockets woke up with a 7-0 run.

A McClaran runner, two Rich free throws and a McClaran long bomb made it a 29-28 contest with 4:20 left in the third quarter.

Spencer McCown had the hot hand early for the Rockets, who beat Cascade 60-48 at Wartrace Tuesday night.

That would be as close as Forrest would get in the quarter as the Champions took a 38-34 lead to the final eight minutes.

McClaran scored to begin the fourth period, but Heath rained down a 3-pointer to make it 41-36 before Rich scored on a three-point play with a drive to dish, cutting the Cascade lead to two points at 41-39.

A missed Champions shot led to McClaran going to the free throw line and hitting the front end of a one-and-one to make it a one-point game.

Moments later, Curtis swiped the rock and scored to put Forrest in front 42-41 and then Curtis scored again on a rebound and put-back.

“That felt really good, it put us up by one point and I was just happy I could help get the win,” Curtis said. “We are 3-10 now and this gives us motivation to carry to Friday against Cheatham County. A win would be a good Christmas present for us.”

The Rockets made it a five-point lead on two Rich free throws and from there Forrest sealed the deal from the charity stripe, hitting 14-of-20 charity shots in the last four minutes and eight straight at the end.

The Rockets (3-10) try to make it four wins in a row when they take on the Cheatham County Cubs (2-6) tonight in Chapel Hill.

“It’s another double ‘A’ school coming in that we have to start matching ourselves up to and start leveling off so we can compete with those guys, so we can keep moving forward,” Toombs said. “It would be real nice to get that one, they are supposed to have a real good basketball team this year.”

Forrest 7 11 16 26-60

Cascade 5 20 13 10-48

Forrest (60): Jacob Rich 22, Ryley McClaran 15, Cameron Curtis 9, Spencer McCown 6, Sam Ford 6, Martin Stewart 2.

3-point Goals (2): McClaran 2.

Free Throws (24-for-32): Rich 14-for-14, Ford 4-for-6, McClaran 3-for-3, Stewart 2-for-4, Curtis 1-for-2, McCown 0-for-3.

Cascade (48): Jaden Russell 12, Brandon Heath 8, Austin Prince 6, Chay Chumley 7, Landon Parker 7, Jake Vincent 5, O’Shea Shelley 3.

3-point Goals: (5): Heath 2, Chumley, Vincent, Shelley.

Free Throws (7-for-11): Chumley 2-for-4, Heath 2-for-2, Russell 2-for-2, Parker 1-for-3

Halftime Score: Cascade 25, Forrest 18.