Rockets comeback big at Unionville

Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Spencer McCown takes the rock strong to the glass for two points in the first quarter versus the Vikings.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

Pundits and predictors beware.

The Forrest Rockets continued their magical mystery tour on Friday night when the Chapel Hill boys travelled to Community and came away with a gut wrenching 64-63 comeback win over the Vikings.

“It’s hard to come to Community and win,” Forrest coach Randy Toombs said. “You throw out records, you throw out scores, and you throw out whose playing. It’s us and them, we are 10 minutes down the road.”

Trailing by five points after a decent first quarter, the Rockets went ice cold from the field in the second period as they scored 10 points, but were still in the ballgame with the Vikings leading 38-29 at the half.

“We weren’t doing a very good job in the blocks, we have a systematic way to run that 1-2-2 match and our posts weren’t executing and giving them open looks down low,” Toombs said.

It was the Jacob Rich show in the third period as the senior guard led the Rockets back with 13 points in the stanza.

“That’s the cool thing about these boys, go ahead and jump all over Ryley and leave Jacob open, leave Ty open, leave Spencer open, leave Sam open,” Toombs said. “Those guys can make shots and we want them to shoot.”

Jacob Rich had 18 points and led the Rockets back with a huge 13-point third quarter, including three 3-pointers.

Rich nailed three 3-pointers with the final long bomb coming at the buzzer to give Forrest a one-point lead after trailing by as many as 12 points in the third quarter.

“It just starting clicking, so I just let it go and they started dropping,” Rich said. “Coach told us at halftime to keep playing harder because we were only down by nine and we have come back from deficits bigger than that before.”

“We just had to keep playing and we did….the shots started to fall for us, we got some stops and that was it.”

The Rockets fed off the big third quarter as Ryley McClaran nailed a 3-pointer from the parking lot to begin the fourth quarter and followed with a steal and score to make it 57-51 contest.

The Vikings fought back, taking a 58-57 lead with a 7-0 run, capped off by a Kobe Pride basket in the paint.

Ty Hengesbach followed with his lone basket of the game, but it was a big one….a 3-pointer from downtown that gave Forrest the lead for good.

After a Community missed basket, Martin Stewart scored in the low post to make 62-58.

A Viking turnover led to a McClaran bucket to put Forrest up 64-58 and everything looked swell.

Not so fast.

The Vikings did not quit as they went on a 5-0 run to cut the Forrest lead to a single point at 64-63 and they had the ball with 17 seconds remaining in the game.

Ty Hengesbach steals the ball to seal the game for the Rockets with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game.

After a Community timeout, Hengesbach came up with the defensive play of the year, stealing the ball after the stoppage.

“We wanted them to not get the last shot, we wanted to give it all we got and play good defense and not foul because we had six fouls,” Hengesbach said. “We had a couple home wins and now this feels great to come over here and win this one on the road.”

This time, Community did not come back and the Rockets (7-12, 3-0) captured their third consecutive District 12-AA contest in a row to remain in first place in the league standings.

“We are in a good spot, because everyone will struggle,” Toombs said. “As long as we can beat everybody once we will be in a good spot.’

“This is a wide open district, so the only thing different is everybody is paying attention to us instead of the other four.”

Forrest 19 10 23 12 - 64

Community 24 14 13 12 - 63

Forrest: Ryley McClaran 18, Jacob Rich 18, Martin Stewart 8, Sam Ford 7, Ty Hengesbach 3, Spencer McCown 4, Cameron Curtis 4, Mitchell Everett 2.

3-Point goals: Forrest (8): Rich 4, McClaran 2, Ford, Hengesbach.

Free throws (6-for-8): McClaran 4-for-4.

Community: Alex Mitchell 18, Dillon Whitaker 14, Kobe Pride 14, Tyrese Eady 4, Thomas Buchanan 2, Grayson Garrette 7, Corde Lane 2, Will Reed 2.

3-Point goals (6): Mitchell 3, Garrette 2, Whitaker.

Free throws (5-for-6): Whitaker 3-for-3, Garrette 1-for-2, Mitchell 1-for-1.

Halftime score: Community 38, Forrest 29.