Lady Knights defeat undermanned Forrest
The Forrest Lady Rockets knew it was going to be a tough task to beat Nolensville on its home floor and even more difficult without starting post player Sydney Hill, who was sidelined with an ankle injury.
Hill, Forrest’s lone senior on the squad was expected to be back in the fold last night when the Lady Rockets travelled to Lewisburg.
The Chapel Hill girls certainly did not back down in the effort in guarding Lady Knight’s standout post player Zoe Piller, who scored 22 points and had a monster night on the boards to lead Nolensville to a hard-fought 56-42 win.
“Their post player had 16 rebounds and we as a team only had 17,” Forrest coach Jeremy Jean said. “That, along with a night where we didn't shoot the ball very well and you come away with a loss.”
“We did as good of a job as we could of guarding Piller, limiting her touches in their offense. We just didn't keep her off the offensive glass.”
Sophomore Carissa Curtis tried to pick up the slack and had a big night for the Lady Rockets, tying Piller for high-game scoring honors with 22 points.
Jaide Langley was also in double figures in the scoring column with 10 points, including a 3-pointer to open the game.
Laura Mealer netted seven points, Shea Lewis had two points, and Anna Blanton added a single marker.
“I think we played really hard,” Jean said. “We didn't shy away from their physicality and overall we defended pretty well, we just didn't finish possessions with a block out rebound, which limited us being able to get out and play in transition.”
“We didn't look to take our open shots early in the game. Maybe played a little tight on offense. We gotta loosen up and play like we have been.”
Parker Leftwich scored 12 points for the Lady Knights and Nolensville’s first-ever 1,000 pointer scorer and last year’s District 12-AA MVP Grace Baird netted 10 points.
Nolensville, in only its third year of playing varsity basketball lost to Community in the district title game last season, but came back to win the region tournament before losing to state runner up East Nashville in a Class 2A sectional contest.
“They were good last year, but with another a year of playing together they have gotten really, really good,” Jean said. “They have everything that you need to be successful, really good guard play and big physical post that can score.”
“They are beatable, we just have to show up and play a complete game.”
Forrest (12-6, 1-1) has lost four straight to Nolensville (13-5, 2-0) and will have a shot at breaking the losing streak when the two teams meet at Forrest on January 29.
Nolensville came out of the blocks in a hurry Friday night, taking a quick 11-3 lead before Curtis brought the Lady Rockets back as she scored seven points at the end of the first period to make it a 13-10 contest in favor of the Lady Knights.
Sydney Mickulin scored for Nolensville to open the second period before Curtis drained a 3-pointer to get the Lady Rockets to within two points of the lead at 15-13.
Nolensville subsequently went on an 8-0 run as Baird scored and Piller dominated in the low post with six points to make it a 10-point game at 23-13 before Lewis scored her lone bucket of the night in the blocks to end the first half with Forrest trailing 23-15.
The Lady Knights made it hard on the Lady Rockets early in the second half as they went on a 9-0 run behind six more points in the paint from Piller and a long bomb by Baird that put Forrest in a 17-point hole.
Undaunted, Chapel Hill fought back again and sliced the Nolensville lead to seven points at 32-25 behind a 10-0 burst that ended on a Langley jumper.
Piller scored six more in the paint by the end of the third quarter and Forrest trailed 41-29, entering the fourth period.
The Lady Rockets scratched and clawed in the final period and eventually cut the Nolensville lead to seven points again on two free throws by Curtis with less than two minutes remaining in the contest before the Lady Knights put the game away with a 7-0 run to end the game.
Forrest travelled to Lewisburg last night to take on a hot Tigerettes’ (16-3, 2-0) squad that was in the midst of an 11-game winning streak, while the Lady Knights host Giles County.
“Every game is a big one, but playing on the road against a team that is 2-0 (MCHS) in district while we are 1-1 makes it a little bigger no matter who it is,” Jean stated. “I think whichever team limits easy buckets and wins the battle on the boards will win the game.”
Forrest 10 5 14 13-42
Nolensville 13 10 18 15-56
Forrest (42): Carissa Curtis 22, Jaide Langley 10, Laura Mealer 7, Shea Lewis 2, Anna Blanton 1.
3-Point Goals (3): Curtis 2, Langley 1.
Free Throws (16-for-21): Curtis 8-for-9, Langley 5-for-6, Mealer 2-for-4, Anna Blanton 1-for-2.
Nolensville (55): Zoe Piller 22, Parker Leftwich 12, Grace Baird 10, Sydney Mickulin 4, Caymin Ladd 3, Kendal Matas 2, Addie Keen 2.
3-Point Goals (2): Baird 1, Ladd 1.
Free Throws (9-for-12): Baird 3-for-4, Leftwich 2-foe-3, Piller 2-for-3, Matas 2-for-2.
Halftime Score: Nolensville 23, Forrest 15.