(T-G Photo by Chris Siers)
That's when Jesse Barnes took over.
Barnes dominated the visiting Rockets for the remainder of the game and posted a game-leading 24 points, boosting the Champs to a 64-54 district win.
"Jesse did a great job tonight. The last time we played them, Jesse had a great night. James (Lattimore) and Jesse were both great against them tonight. I thought they were both just dominant inside--especially Jesse. He just took over," said Cascade coach Mike Edmondson.
But early on, the Champs (15-6, 9-3 9-A) struggled to gain any traction at all. In fact, Cascade's first points came with just over four minutes left in the opening quarter when Alex Hatchett knocked down a pair of free throws.
After Forrest answered, Cascade went on a 8-2 run to close the quarter.
"They just pressured so hard. That's the thing why they've been winning here lately is because they pressure people like that. After we settled down, we were okay. But it took us a while to settle down," Edmondson said.
"We worked on it yesterday, but you just can't simulate that kind of defensive pressure."
Despite the early woes, the Champs rebounded for 18 in the second quarter, with Barnes leading the way with 10 more points.
Forrest was able to muster up 12 more, but go-to man Mark Pope was held mostly in check by the Champion 'D'.
"We played a lot of zone tonight and we made sure we didn't leave him standing (open). We didn't give him any great looks," Edmondson said.
Pope added six in the second quarter, but only posted 10 points when the final buzzer sounded.
Cascade saw another big quarter in the third, with the offense pounding away inside the lane for 19 more while the Rockets mustered up another 12-point frame.
In the third, Cascade spread the attack and saw six more from Barnes, while Lattimore added four more inside the lane.
With the dual threat continuing to dominate the paint, Forrest was forced to pick its poison between Barnes and Lattimore--and the two made the Rockets pay.
While Cascade led by 11 at the end of three, Forrest cut the Champion lead to nine points several different times in the fourth, but never could cut it closer than a three possession game.
Forced to foul in order to stop the clock, the Champs hit the needed free throws to put the Rockets away for good.
In the fourth quarter, Cascade cashed in on 9-of-12 attempts at the line, with Holt adding six more points in the final eight minutes.
"I thought we shot the ball there well--especially down the stretch," Edmondson said.
In addition to Barnes' game-high 24 points, Hatchett, Lattimore, and Holt each climbed into double figures. Hatchet and Lattimore posted 12 apiece while Holt added 11 more.
Forrest had some heavy hitters on the offensive end of the floor with Ty Hoeft and Lucas Pruitt each adding 11, while Pope contributed his 10 points.
The win by the Champs only adds confusion to a befuddled District 9-A race, especially taking into consideration that No. 1 MTCS suffered an 81-75 OT loss to Fayetteville on Friday night.
And with a showdown against the Cougars on deck for Tuesday, the winner could potentially be in a position to claim the regular season District 9-A championship.
"It could set it up for who could be first in the regular season. We have to take care of our business on Tuesday night and whatever happens, happens," Edmondson said.
Tip-off is set for 7:30 on Tuesday night in Wartrace.
Forrest 12 12 12 18 -- 54
Cascade 10 18 19 17 -- 64
Forrest: Ty Hoeft 11, Lucas Pruitt 11, Mark Pope 10, Juice Rumley 8, Zach Horvath 6, Jacob Daughrity 4, Kennedy Mathis 2, Dakota Zimmerman 2.
Cascade: Jesse Barnes 24, Alex Hatchett 12, James Lattimore 12, Will Holt 11, Blake Floyd 4, Bryce Clinton 1.
3-Point goals: Forrest (2): Hoeft, Daughrity; Cascade (1): Holt.
Halftime score: Cascade 28, Forrest 24.