CHAPEL HILL – Moore County’s game against Forrest came down to a free-throw shooting contest late in the fourth quarter on Friday night. And MCHS freshman Kursten Hawkins hit 9-of-10 from the charity stripe to help the Raiderettes overcome a 10-point halftime deficit and sneak out of Chapel Hill with a hard-earned 40-39 victory.
It was a win that certainly shook up the top of the District 9-A standings, and more importantly, helped the Raiderettes gain some much-needed confidence as they near the Christmas break.
Just three days earlier it was Forrest head coach Jeremy Jean who said his team was playing with some “well-deserved” swagger. Perhaps too much. Early on it looked as though the host Lady Rockets (9-2 overall, 2-1 District 9-A) would back up their 65-34 win over Summertown earlier in the week with yet another blowout.
And likewise, as the Raiderettes (9-3, 2-2) watched Forrest turn a 12-12 deadlock into a 22-12 game by halftime, it appeared as though the visitors were headed for their second straight defeat following last week’s 11-point loss to Huntland.
But after a rugged second period, the Raiderettes bounced back in the third. They held Forrest to no field goals in the third period, and thanks to a pair a three-pointers – one by Hawkins and one by senior Makayla Ray – they managed to cut the deficit in half.
Despite four straight turnovers early in the fourth quarter by Moore County, Forrest’s inability to score the ball allowed the Raiderettes to hang around.
Moore County was still down by seven points, 30-23, with 2:58 remaining when Hawkins scored and freshman teammate Kinsley Logan sank a triple to make it a two-point game, 30-28.
A pair of free throws by Forrest’s Caitlyn Yost made it 32-28, but Logan answered again for the Raiderettes as she scored a bucket, drew a foul and made the free throw for an old fashioned three-point play with just 1:33 left to play.
A driving bucket by Hannah Evans extended the lead to 34-31 for the Lady Rockets. Then the Raiderettes started making a steady trail to the free throw line. In the fourth period, Logan and Hawkins – the only two Raiderettes who scored in the final frame – combined to go 12-of-13 from the free throw line, including 9-of-10 in the final 69 seconds.
Two free throws by Hawkins gave Moore County the lead, 35-34 with 55 seconds left. The Raiderettes never gave up the lead. Hawkins made nine straight before finally missing one with 6 seconds remaining. Yost then hit a deep three-pointer at the buzzer that changed the score, but not the outcome.
Hawkins finished with 23 points to pace Moore County. Logan added eight, all in the fourth period, and Ray had seven. Chrissy Lockhart scored two.