Rockets rout Vikings, clinch district title
The Forrest Rockets started the season with a 0-10 record, but played some very tough teams along the way to harden the squad and it paid off.
Since a 60-49 loss at Summertown on December 8, the surprising Rockets have gone 12-4 with a stellar 7-2 District 12-AA mark, including a 73-48 rout over Community Tuesday night at Chapel Hill that essentially clinched the regular season district title with Marshall County’s loss to Nolensville.
“It’s amazing,” Forrest senior Jacob Rich said. “Our freshman year we won nine, our sophomore year we won five, and then six my junior year, so if you would have told we would turn it around from being next to last two years in a row to being regular district champs, I would have signed up any day.”
“I’m just really, really excited about it and I give all the credit to my teammates and coaches for putting in all the hard work.”
Forrest (12-14, 7-2) can put the bow on the title with a win over Murfreesboro Central Magnet (15-12, 5-4) in Friday’s senior night matchup at Chapel Hill.
The win over the Vikings also clinched a Region 6-AA Tournament spot and a first round bye in Tuesday night’s opening round of the District 12-AA Tournament at Giles County.
“With the number one seed we will have that target on our back,” Rich said. “We just have to come out focused and prepared and keep working hard and if we do that we have the confidence to go out and win it.”
The Rockets got the job done without the services of their leading scorer in sophomore Ryley McClaran, who had to sit out Tuesday night’s game versus Community because of concussion protocol.
“Ryley is a great player and our leading scorer, but wanted to show everyone we are not a one man team,” Rich said. “Everybody had to pick up the slack because you can’t lose a 25-point game scorer and it be the same, so we all had to step up and we did.”
The rest of the guys came up huge with Rich and Sam Ford scoring 16 points apiece, while Ty Hengesbach and Cameron Curtis were also in double figures with 14 and 12 points respectively.
Eleven out of the 13 players on the Forrest active roster scored in the contest with Spencer McCown and Martin Stewart scoring three points apiece, C. J. Sanchez, Mitchel Everett, Lofton Yeager, and Cole Perryman all had two points, and Joseph Whitaker, Tucker McNair, and Joel Burton added one marker apiece.
McClaran’s availability for the regular season finale is uncertain.
Rich set the tone early in the coast-to-coast win, draining a 3-pointer on Forrest’s second possession and Hengesbach added another long bomb moments later.
Rich scored eight points in the first quarter and Hengesbach had nine as the Rockets held a 19-11 lead after the first eight minutes.
Will Reed made two free throws to begin the second quarter for Community before the Rockets blasted off on a 7-0 run as Rich scored the first five points and the spurt was capped off on a pretty pass by Hengesbach to Martin Stewart, who laid it off the window to double up the Vikings at 26-13.
The Rockets never relinquished control of the game after that as they continued to build the first half lead that eventually rose to 16 points and a 38-22 lead at the intermission.
When Ford has his turnaround jumper working he is deadly and he was in the second half Tuesday night, scoring all 16 of his points in the game after halftime, including 10 in the third quarter onslaught won by the Rockets 21-10.
Curtis also played an inspired game with five of his dozen points coming in third period and Spencer McCown drained a crowd pleasing 3-pointer that put the Rockets at the 50-point mark.
Forrest continued to pour it on and after one Rich free throw gave the Rockets a 26-point lead at 57-31, Toombs went to the subs for the rest of the game with 1:18 remaining in third period.
There was no drop off as the Rockets outscored the Vikings 14-12 in the fourth quarter to win going away and set up the regular season finale Friday night.
Community 11 11 14 12 — 48
Forrest 19 19 21 14 — 73
Community (48): Dillon Whitaker 8, Kobe Pride 6, Tyrese Eady 5, Alex Mitchell 4, Will Reed 3, Elijah Pope 5, Corde Lane 4, Zach Lohn 4, Grayson Garrette 3, Jarrett Collier 2, Zac Monroe 2, Evan Petrie 2, Thomas Buchanan, Zander Monroe, Brayden Pearson.
Free Throws (20-for-34): Pride 4-for-6, Zander Monroe 0-for-6, Whitaker 4-for-4, Eady 3-for-4, Lane 3-for-4, Reed 3-for-4, Petrie 2-for-4, Lohn 1-for-2.
Forrest (73): Sam Ford 16, Jacob Rich 16, Ty Hengesbach 14, Cameron Curtis 12, Spencer McCown 3, Martin Stewart 2, C. J. Sanchez 3, Mitchel Everett 2, Lofton Yeager 2, Cole Perryman 2, Joseph Whitaker 1, Tucker McNair, Joel Burton.
Free Throws (25-for-37): Rich 6-for-11, Hengesbach 7-for-8, Curtis 4-for-6, Sanchez 3-for-4, Perryman 2-for-2, Everette 2-for-2, Whitaker 1-for-2, McCown 0-for-2.
3-Point goals: Community (3): Pope, Lohn, Garrette; Forrest (4): Rich 2, Hengesbach, McCown.
Halftime score: Forrest 38, Community 22.