Rockets come up with huge district win

Friday, January 12, 2018
Jacob Rich pulls up for a one handed jumper in the fourth quarter for the Rockets, who beat Nolensville 79-71 in Chapel Hill Thursday night.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Forrest Rockets have a great basketball tradition, playing on the hardwood for a century.

Nolensville, just a third-year high school, doesn’t.

The Knights came to Chapel Hill Thursday night for a District 12-AA contest and took the Rockets for granted and disrespected them.

Nolensville (7-10, 1-1) paid for their bad karma via a 79-71 win by Forrest, who scored the most points in a district game since 2013.

“That was a hell of a win,” Forrest coach Randy Toombs said.

Ryley McClaran hits a one-handed runner in the lane for two of his game-high 27 points.

Sophomore lefty gunslinger Ryley McClaran continued his stellar season, pouring in a game-high 27 points with five 3-pointers and a perfect 6-for-6 performance from the free throw line.

Jacob Rich caught fire with 15 points and he also turned in a perfect 5-for-5 effort from the free throw line, all coming in the fourth quarter.

Sam Ford turned in a monster performance with 13 points, jump-starting Forrest with 11 first quarter points, including all three of his 3-pointers in the game.

“That was a big first quarter for Sam,” Toombs said. “I didn’t think he was gonna miss and he came up big with a few more at the end.”

“I’ve told him in practice, if they back off on you, don’t you dare not let that fly and I have all the confidence in him.”

And Ty Hengesbach looks like he is back to his old self after his injury, scoring 12 points with two 3-pointers and the senior guard tossed in 6-of-8 attempts from the charity stripe, while morphing all over the court on defense.

“Everybody looks at Ryley and rightly so because he is such a great shooter, but there are six or seven other kids that will hurt your butt if you don’t pay attention to them,” Toombs said. “And that’s great that they have taken that attitude, it’s great that they are like…you pay attention to Ryley and I may get me a couple of more open shots here.”

The Rockets wasted little time in sending a message to the Knights that they were not pushovers, scoring the first seven points in the game on a Martin Stewart bucket in the low post, a Ford trey, and a McClaran one-handed runner in the lane.

Brandon Wharton scored for Nolensville before Forrest scored 10 unanswered points on a Ford basket, back-to-back McClaran treys, and a muscle in by Mitchell Everette in the blocks.

The shell-shocked Knights managed to cut the lead to 10 points late at 26-16, but a Hengesbach 3-point buzzer beater sat them down with a 13-point deficit.

Nolensville came back in the second period, cutting the Forrest lead to five points on two separate occasions, but each time the Rockets answered and Chapel Hill led 43-34 at the half.

Sam Ford scored 13 points in the game, including three treys in the first quarter.

Hengesbach drilled a 3-pointer at the outset of the second half and after a Nolensville brick, Ford scored to make it 48-34.

Nate Bloedorn rattled home one free throw for the shaky Knights, but McClaran hit a jumper and after two missed free throws by Nolensville, Cameron Curtis scored on a reverse layup in the low post to increase Forrest’s lead to 17 at 52-35.

A Knights bucket broke the mini-run before the Rockets slapped back on a Rich drive to the hoop and another McClaran long bomb, giving Forrest a 20-point lead at 57-37.

Nolensville stayed in the game with a 12-2 run to end the third period to slice the Forrest lead in half.

The Knights reeled off a 9-2 run in the fourth quarter, capped off by a Zach Campbell 3-pointer with 3:45 left in the game to cut the Forrest lead to 61-58.

Rich came up with a huge three-point play the old fashioned way and Campbell scored again.

After the Rockets inbounded the ball and passed half court, the game changed for good when Campbell was whistled for a technical foul on an unsportsmanlike gesture after fouling McClaran with 3:04 left in the game.

McClaran proceeded to hit both ends of the one-and-one foul call, plus two technical foul shots to make it 68-60 and the Rockets had the ball on a side out.

Rich was fouled and he buried two more charity shots to make it a 10-point game as the Rockets sealed the deal from there, draining 7-of-10 free throws down the stretch to claim back-to-back district wins for the first time since the 2013-2014 season.

In the most anticipated matchup of the newly formed District 12-AA, Forrest (6-12, 2-0) hosts Marshall County (13-6, 1-1) on Tuesday.

“Isn’t it great, it should be fun, we should have security at every door,” Toombs said. “I’m gonna feel like I’m back at Metro with security at every door.”

The Tigers lost 61-53 to Murfreesboro Central Magnet (11-9, 1-1) on Thursday in Lewisburg.

Should be quite a matchup for the fans in a game that features a pair of lefty sharpshooters in McClaran and Lewisburg’s KJ Johnson.

Nolensville 16 18 15 22-71

Forrest 29 14 16 20-79

Nolensville (71): Zach Campbell 17, Nate Bloedorn 13, Reese Gilbert 12, Brandon Wharton 8, Nathan Foutch 8, Andrew Neuhaus 7, Jayden Watkins 4, Hudson Stromen 2.

3-Point Goals (4): Campbell 2, Watkins, Neuhaus.

Free Throws (17-for-30): Bloedorn 3-for-7, Campbell 3-for-3, Wharton 2-for-8, Foutch 4-for-5, Stromen 2-for-2, Neuhaus 2-for-2, Watkins 1-for-2, Gilbert 0-for-1

Forrest (79): Ryley McClaran 27, Jacob Rich 15, Sam Ford 13, Ty Hengesbach 12, Cameron Curtis 6, Mitchell Everette 4, Martin Stewart 2.

3-Point Goals (10): McClaran 5, Ford 3, Hengesbach 2.

Free Throws (22-for-25): Hengesbach 6-for-8, McClaran 6-for-6, Rich 5-for-5, Curtis 3-for-4, Everette 2-for-2.

Halftime Score: Forrest 43, Nolensville 34.