Their time to shine
The boys basketball team at Forest Hills High has given Marshville something to get excited about.
The Yellow Jackets were supposed to be a year away — they don't have a senior among their top seven — but pulled the upset over archrival Monroe, 54-48, in the second round of the 2A playoffs on Wednesday night.
For the first time in five years, Forest Hills is in the third round of the playoffs.
"We all believed we could win," said FH sophomore guard Jordan Blakeney, who was 8-of-8 at the foul line in the fourth quarter and scored a team-high 16. "Our coach told us we could shock the world and that's what we wanted to do."
Wednesday marked the program's most significant win since second-year coach Matt Sides took the job, and he was quick to give his players credit for their "focus and toughness."
The Jackets (15-13), who play at East Rutherford (20-5) tonight in the third round, were 0-3 this season against Monroe before Wednesday's marque win.
"We had some young guys grow up today," Sides said. "Monroe has been tougher than us the last month. ... I was proud of the toughness we showed. We made free throws and we got to some loose balls."
Forest Hills made 14-of-16 free throws in the fourth quarter and 17-of-20 (85 percent) for the game. Monroe also shot 20 free throws but converted 12 (60 percent).
"We shoot at least 50 a day and we call them championship free throws," Blakeney said.
Forest Hills sophomore small forward Desmond Lindsey helped set the tone early when he turned a steal into a dunk that put his team up 6-3 three minutes into the game.
The Jackets led 13-7 after the first quarter and went up 19-9 on back-to-back 3-pointers by junior guard Terrance Huntley, who finished with 10 points in a defensive game.
Huntley, a three-year starter, is Forest Hills' most experienced player. The Enquirer-Journal's 2012 Freshman of the Year said he could sense the Jackets had Monroe on the ropes in the second half.
Forest Hills built a double digit lead four times in the game, and went up 39-27 with a minute left in the third quarter on Lindsey's second dunk of the night.
Monroe star guard Brandon Roddy, the 2013 player of the year in the county and his conference, tried to rally his team. Roddy scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, but the Redhawks never got closer than four points in the fourth quarter.
Monroe (19-3) used seven players, and five of them are seniors.
Forest Hills played four sophomores and three juniors.
"We showed tremendous composure making those free throws in the fourth quarter," Sides said. "I was impressed with the maturity and toughness our team showed."
Sophomore guard AJ Allen made two 3-pointers and contributed nine points and six rebounds off the bench for FH. Sophomore guard Zaccheus Rorie also scored nine and added five boards and three assists.
The Jackets ended a streak of seven straight losses to Monroe. They had to wait 25 months between victories against their archrival.
The Redhawks had won 12 of the previous 13 meetings against FH dating back to 2009.
"It feels good to beat Monroe," Huntley said. "We just focused on the game plan the coaches had for us. We had something to play for. This was like a championship game."
Forest Hills 54, Monroe 48
Forest Hills (15-13)
Jordan Blakeney 4 8-8 16, Terrance Huntley 4 0-0 10, Zaccheus Rorie 2 5-8 9, Desmond Lindsey 4 0-0 8, Michael Whitis 0 0-0 0, AJ Allen 2 3-4 9, Brandon Barbour 1 0-0 2. Totals 17 17-20 54.
Brandon Roddy 8 5-8 23, Gary Parker 3 4-4 10, Tre'Shun Wynn 1 3-4 5, Nicholas Ashcraft 0 0-2 0, Kairee Forte 0 0-0 0, Isaiah Thomas 2 0-1 4, Jaylan Barbour 2 0-0 6. Totals 16 12-20 48.
3-pointers: Forest Hills 4 (Huntley 2, Allen 2); Monroe 4 (Roddy 2, Jaylan Barbour 2). Rebounds: Forest Hills 32 (Whitis 9, Blakeney 6, Allen 6, Rorie 5). Assists: Forest Hills 8 (Blakeney 3, Rorie 3); Monroe 6 (Wynn 4). Steals: Forest HIlls 5 (Lindsey 2); Monroe 6 (Roddy 4). Blocks: Forest Hills 3 (Blakeney 1, Rorie 1, Lindsey 1); Monroe 2 (Parker 2).