(T-G Photo by Jimmy Jones) [Order this photo]
The Community Vikings (10-14, 4-10 9-A) played dead even physically, and statistics-wise, with the Forrest Rockets for four quarters with each team making 22 field goals and four 3-pointers apiece, but it was the visitors that prevailed 67-62 because they made five more free throws than the home team did.
"I told our kids that the difference in a 20-win season and a nine-win season for them is free throws," Viking coach Robbie Davis said.
"They hit 11-of-19 on the road in a strange gym and we hit 6-of-15 from a spot on the floor that we spend hours on every week.
"It's not just one kid either. It is all of us. I can't fault their effort, these guys play hard every night, but free throws have been our Achilles heel all season long."
It was a very well-played ball game played at a break neck pace in front of a roaring capacity crowd for four quarters with each team imposing their will on one another with impressive scoring runs at different points.
But it was the Rockets that stepped up in the clutch in the final minutes to hit 7-of-9 free throws while the Vikings were an excruciating 0-for-6 in the quarter.
Forrest (16-9, 7-6) led 16-12 at the close of the first period and held off the Vikings to hold a slim 35-34 advantage at the intermission. Blake Fanning posted eight points in the frame.
The pace continued to be frantic in the third quarter with the visitors coming out on top by a 52-47 margin to begin the fourth quarter.
The Purple and Gold battled to within a basket on three occasions, and Blake Fanning hit a clutch 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds left in the fourth but the Rockets answered each time. Juice Rumley hit 4-of-4 free throws down the stretch for the Blue and White and they proved to be the difference.
The loss ensures the Vikings finish as the seventh place team in the district.
Community played Webb on Saturday in Bell Buckle. Look for results in the Tuesday edition of the T-G.
Forrest (67): Pope 23, Rumley 15, Pruitt 9, Daughrity 5, Horvath 5, Zimmerman 4, Hoeft 4, Mathis 2.
Community (62): Fann 15, Primm 10, Simmons 9, Pierce 8, Paschal 6, Grissom 4, Pride 4, Clanton 2, Broiles 2, Frost 2, Parker.
3-point goals: Community 4, Forrest 4.
Halftime score: Forrest 35, Community 34.