Rockets solid in win over Bobcats

Friday, January 12, 2018
Ryley McClaran scored a game-high 31 points for the Rockets, who beat Giles County 62-47 in the District 12-AA opener for both squads.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

Forrest finally got the reward they were looking for as their hard work and dedication paid off Tuesday in Chapel Hill as the Rockets beat Giles County 62-47 in the District 12-AA opener for both teams.

“That’s why we went out and played all those good teams before this,” Forrest coach Randy Toombs said. “I didn’t want them to step out on the floor tonight and have not seen this, we have seen this and we have seen this at the highest level, so I’m very proud.”

Sophomore lefty gunslinger Ryley McClaran scored half of Forrest’s points, pouring in 31 points for the Rockets with five 3-pointers and a solid 8-for-10 performance from the free throw line.

“We worked hard all week to prepare for that and it was an all-around good night for everybody, it felt good,” McClaran said. “I got my confidence up from the get-go and it carried over to the second half to have more confidence and I think it got everybody going.”

Ty Hengesbach was also in double figures with 11 points, Martin Stewart had another solid game in the low post with 8 points, Sam Ford and Cameron Curtis netted 5 points apiece, and Spencer McCown added a deuce.

Ty Hengesbach finishes off a second half steal and score.

“Ty is a great option on offense and on defense and it’s nice to have him back healthy,” McClaran added. “Martin and Cameron were there when we needed them, helping out on defense and stopping a lot drives.”

Forrest was tough from the free throw line, making 17-of-19 from the charity stripe, while the Bobcats struggled in a 6-for-17 effort.

In the first meeting between the two schools in three years, McClaran came out on fire from the outset, scoring 12 first quarter points with a pair of long bombs.

Spencer McCown goes in for the left-handed layup.

Trailing 11-9 with less than two minutes to go in the first quarter, McClaran singlehandedly outscored the Bobcats 7-2 to hand the Rockets a 16-13 lead at the end of the period.

A Sam Ford 3-pointer got the Rockets going again in the second quarter as they went up 25-17 on two more 3-pointers by McClaran before Giles County made a comeback.

The Bobcats went on a 12-6 run that was capped off by a Sam Hatfield 3-pointer, but Hengesbach immediately answered with a trey and Forrest took a 36-31 lead to the halftime break.

“It was a real good sign that we were able to answer their runs,” Toombs said. “Runs are crazy in every sport and in basketball they come will quick.”

Hengesbach swiped the rock and scored to open up the second half and in a low scoring third quarter, Forrest outscored Giles County 11-8 to take a 47-39 lead to the final eight minutes.

Curtis scored in the low post off a Giles County miscue early in the fourth quarter and the Rockets increased their lead to 14 points as McClaran and Hengesbach both converted both ends of one-and-one opportunities from the free throw line.

With three minutes remaining in the game, McClaran’s final 3-pointer of the night gave Forrest their biggest lead of the game at 16 points and the Rockets cruised to the victory.

“I wanted to make our preseason schedule harder than our district games and that’s what happened, and the boys are really coming through and buying in on stuff,” Toombs said. “They are hardworking boys, they make it fun to come to the gym and practice, they are there, they are never not there.”

Forrest (5-12, 1-0) took on Nolensville (7-9, 1-0) last night in a game that was originally scheduled for tonight, but was moved because of the incoming winter weather.

The Rockets host Marshall County (13-5, 1-0) on Tuesday and travel to Community (7-8, 0-1) next Friday night.

“We have to step up and play hard every night and don’t let up,” McClaran said.

Giles Co. 13 18 8 8-47

Forrest 16 20 11 15-62

Giles Co. (47): KJ Zeigler 13, Sam Hatfield 13, Morgan Witt 8, Gary Smith 6, Dakorbian Bellefant 4, Delmar Gentry 3.

3-Point Goals (3): Hatfield 3.

Free Throws (6-for-17): Zeigler 3-for-6, Bellefant 2-for-4, Gentry 1-for-2, Devin Johnson 0-for-2, Witt 0-for-3.

Forrest (62): Ryley McClaran 31, Ty Hengesbach 11, Martin Stewart 8, Sam Ford 5, Cameron Curtis 5, Spencer McCown 2.

3-Point Goals (7): McClaran 5, Hengesbach, Ford.

Free Throws (17-for-19): McClaran 8-for-10, Hengesbach 4-for-4, Stewart 4-for-4, Curtis 1-for-1.

Halftime Score: Forrest 36, Giles County 31.