EAST BEND - In a hostile, playoff-like atmosphere, Forbush exacted revenge against bitter county rival Starmount Friday night.
The Falcons cruised in the second half to pull away from the Rams to capture the basketball edition of the Unifi Bowl, 79-68.
“That was a tough one. That’s two teams within miles of each other; punch after punch. I love it. That’s the type of environment I want and like, and we played hard,” Forbush head coach Jeff Weisner said. “We played too hard at times and got into some foul trouble. We fought through it, and we weathered the storm because they came out punching.
“In the fourth quarter, we made that little run and we were just trying to hold on. We hit our free throws, which hasn’t been our forte lately. We hit enough tonight. I’m pleased,” he added.
The Rams attacked the basket early and often in the first quarter, grabbing a 20-17 lead after one. But from that point on, Forbush turned up its defensive pressure.
The Falcons battled back and took a 29-26 lead on a three by Hunter Gooden midway through the second. A Gooden jumper with time expiring gave Forbush a 37-32 advantage heading into the locker room.
Starmount played from behind in the second half, keeping the game close. After only scoring 13 points in the third, the Rams poured in 23 points in the final frame to make a burst.
But Forbush matched each score, dropping 42 points in the second half - including 27 in the fourth - to win the back-and-forth rivalry game, 79-68.
Weisner said there were several keys to the Falcons’ second-half burst to put the game out of reach.
“I was able to keep starters on the floor a little longer in the second half,” he said. “We picked up our intensity on defense in the second half. And we didn’t settle for jump shots.”
Starmount skipper Rocky Horton said the Rams got away from what was working in the first half - attacking the basket.
“We were doing a good job at attacking the basket in the first half and we kind of got away from that at times. If we do a good job of attacking the basket, we just have to hit our free throws,” he explained.
Barrett Hennings powered Forbush to a season-high in points with a game-high 18, while Gooden added 13. Mason Doub and Bennett Winslow recorded 10 points apiece on the night.
In a balanced scoring effort that matched their highest offensive output of the season, James Ashley paced Starmount with 13 points, while Gunner Cass and Kyler Gregory added 10 points apiece. Nathan Williams and Luke Shore recorded nine points each as 10 Rams scored on the night.
Starmount (1-9, 0-5) returns to the court with two road games this week. The Rams head up the mountain to take on Alleghany Tuesday before travelling to North Wilkes Friday night. Forbush (2-7, 2-3) welcome conference leaders Elkin and Wilkes Central to East Bend this week.
“We have a big week. We can’t be happy. We can enjoy this for a few days but we have a big week ahead of us,” Weisner said.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.