North Forrest rallies to earn first round win, defeats Lake 44-30

By STAN CALDWELL,

HATTIESBURG – A year ago, Quenton Loving took the North Forrest boys to the Big House for the first time since 2000.

 

It has been a struggle at times with a young team, but the Eagles were successful in the first step toward a return trip to the Class 2A semifinals, defeating Lake 44-30 at the North Forrest gym.

 

The Eagles improved to 18-8 overall. And now they must take to the road to battle Heidelberg in the second round at 6 p.m. Saturday. A win there would advance North Forrest to the quarterfinal round next week at Pearl River Community College.

 

“I definitely think it could be (a year for a return to Jackson),” said junior forward Joseph Holloway. “If we play as hard as we do every day in practice, we could make it happen.”

 

Their first-round opponent came in with a record of just 5-20, but the Hornets won two of three games in the Region 6-2A Tournament last week, earning the third seed in their region, and they made the most of the opportunity.

 

Lake used a patient approach, slowing the game down and limiting possessions, and it frustrated the Eagles in the first quarter. North Forrest hit just 1 of 9 shots in the first eight minutes and trailed 9-4 at the end of the period.

 

“We got off to a slow start,” said Loving. “We were missing some easy layups in transition. We counteracted it by just staying together and playing hard on defense. I told the guys that things would start to turn for us, and they did.”

 

That they did. With Lake leading 11-5 early in the second quarter, senior guard Tre Williams hit a 17-footer from the top of the key, then the defense forced an offensive foul on Lake.

 

Junior Jaren Sullivan swished a 3-point shot for the Eagles to cut the margin to 11-10, but Lake’s Jalen Theus drove the lane for a shot jumper to give the Hornets a 13-10 advantage. 

 

However, that was Lake’s last lead, as Williams forced the pace on the ensuing possession and got a 3-point shot to tie it 13-13.

 

North Forrest took the lead for good on a pair of foul shots by Holloway with 3:47 remaining in the first half. By the time the Eagles’ 11-0 run was complete, they had a 21-13 lead.

 

“We just had to calm down and run our offense,” said Holloway, who led North Forrest with 19 points. “We were a little edgy earlier and kept rushing things. We missed a lot of layups. But once we calmed down and got into our offense, it was all good.”

 

Lake was game, though, and scored the last five points of the first half, getting a 3-pointer to close the North Forrest lead to 21-18 at halftime.

 

“We saw where they were kind of young in the backcourt, at the guard position,” said Loving. “We wanted to pick up our intensity on the defensive end and make them work for everything they got.”

 

In the second half, the Eagles used their inside game to get good shots, and this time they converted the high percentage shots.

 

“I’m a slasher, so I like to take it to the rack,” said Williams, who had 13 points for the Eagles. “Most times they close in on me, and I can dish it off to my teammates, and they’re going to finish.”  

 

After a sluggish start to the third quarter, North Forrest ripped off nine unanswered points, building a 30-18 lead on a putback layup by Holloway.

 

The Eagles led 32-23 after the end of the third quarter, then showed some offensive patience of their own, taking – and making – just five shots in the period. The Eagles were also efficient at the foul line, converting 10 of 13 free throws, including 7 of 7 by Holloway.

 

“We’ve got to get better at defense, rebounding – that’s really what we need, rebounding,” said Williams.

 

Denarius Hughes led Lake with 10 points off the bench.

 

For more stories by Stan Caldwell go to stanmansportsfan.com.

HATTIESBURG – A year ago, Quenton Loving took the North Forrest boys to the Big House for the first time since 2000.

It has been a struggle at times with a young team, but the Eagles were successful in the first step toward a return trip to the Class 2A semifinals, defeating Lake 44-30 at the North Forrest gym.

The Eagles improved to 18-8 overall. And now they must take to the road to battle Heidelberg in the second round at 6 p.m. Saturday. A win there would advance North Forrest to the quarterfinal round next week at Pearl River Community College.

“I definitely think it could be (a year for a return to Jackson),” said junior forward Joseph Holloway. “If we play as hard as we do every day in practice, we could make it happen.”

Their first-round opponent came in with a record of just 5-20, but the Hornets won two of three games in the Region 6-2A Tournament last week, earning the third seed in their region, and they made the most of the opportunity.

Lake used a patient approach, slowing the game down and limiting possessions, and it frustrated the Eagles in the first quarter. North Forrest hit just 1 of 9 shots in the first eight minutes and trailed 9-4 at the end of the period.

“We got off to a slow start,” said Loving. “We were missing some easy layups in transition. We counteracted it by just staying together and playing hard on defense. I told the guys that things would start to turn for us, and they did.”

That they did. With Lake leading 11-5 early in the second quarter, senior guard Tre Williams hit a 17-footer from the top of the key, then the defense forced an offensive foul on Lake.

Junior Jaren Sullivan swished a 3-point shot for the Eagles to cut the margin to 11-10, but Lake’s Jalen Theus drove the lane for a shot jumper to give the Hornets a 13-10 advantage.

However, that was Lake’s last lead, as Williams forced the pace on the ensuing possession and got a 3-point shot to tie it 13-13.

North Forrest took the lead for good on a pair of foul shots by Holloway with 3:47 remaining in the first half. By the time the Eagles’ 11-0 run was complete, they had a 21-13 lead.

“We just had to calm down and run our offense,” said Holloway, who led North Forrest with 19 points. “We were a little edgy earlier and kept rushing things. We missed a lot of layups. But once we calmed down and got into our offense, it was all good.”

Lake was game, though, and scored the last five points of the first half, getting a 3-pointer to close the North Forrest lead to 21-18 at halftime.

“We saw where they were kind of young in the backcourt, at the guard position,” said Loving. “We wanted to pick up our intensity on the defensive end and make them work for everything they got.”

In the second half, the Eagles used their inside game to get good shots, and this time they converted the high percentage shots.

“I’m a slasher, so I like to take it to the rack,” said Williams, who had 13 points for the Eagles. “Most times they close in on me, and I can dish it off to my teammates, and they’re going to finish.” 

After a sluggish start to the third quarter, North Forrest ripped off nine unanswered points, building a 30-18 lead on a putback layup by Holloway.

The Eagles led 32-23 after the end of the third quarter, then showed some offensive patience of their own, taking – and making – just five shots in the period. The Eagles were also efficient at the foul line, converting 10 of 13 free throws, including 7 of 7 by Holloway.

“We’ve got to get better at defense, rebounding – that’s really what we need, rebounding,” said Williams.

Denarius Hughes led Lake with 10 points off the bench.

For more stories by Stan Caldwell go to stanmansportsfan.com.