Fayetteville High School’s Tiger basketball has raised the bar for future teams, winning their first hardware for the trophy case last week, finishing as runner-up in District 9-A tournament action.
Friday, FHS matched up with Forrest in the title game and went down, 53-37. Fayetteville had defeated the Rockets twice during the regular season by a double-digit margin. But, tournament time starts a new season, and it was Forrest who turned it on at the right time.
The Rockets won in the first round over Eagleville, 44-39, then upset the number-one seed Middle Tennessee Christian Cougars, 60-40, to advance to the championship.
Fayetteville edged out Moore County, 58-55 in their opener, then picked up a big 65-60 win over Community to advance.
As runner-up, the Tigers will host LEAD Academy in their first-ever round of Region 1 play Saturday starting at 7 p.m. LEAD won over McEwen in the District 10-A consolation game.
“Of course we were disappointed not to win the championship,” said FHS Coach Chris Murdock. “We’d defeated two good teams, Moore County and Community, and Forrest had upset Middle Tennessee Christian – we felt like we had a good shot at it.
“But, we didn’t bring the game we should have, and Forrest was playing their best basketball of the season when it mattered most,” he added. “We got away from our game and went into a desperation mode long before we should have, but the guys have worked hard all season, and I’m proud of them finishing as runner-up.
“We have the opportunity to continue our season hosting the first round of the region tournament,” Murdock continued. “LEAD is a lot like us playing a fast pace transition game – it should be a night of exciting basketball.”
Friday night the Tigers won the first frame, 13-10, with threes coming from Aaron Parks and Nicholas Hopkins.
But, in the second, the well went dry. The Rockets set the tempo for the remainder of the game, winning the period, 16-7, and the Tigers trailed 26-20 at the break.
Fayetteville’s scoring woes didn’t improve. Forrest won the third, 13-6, and had the lead, 39-26, going into the fourth.
The Rockets failed to score from the floor in the final frame, but their 14 points from the line were enough to expand their margin. Forrest won the fourth, 14-11, for the win, 53-37.
Nicholas Hopkins led for FHS with 19; James Keith and Aaron Parks, 6; Osborn Cowell, 4; and Michael Parks scored 2.
The Tigers were 10 of 18 from the line and hit three from the arch with Hopkins hitting two and A. Parks with one, all coming in the first half.
On Tuesday of last week, Fayetteville advanced to the championship round, defeating Community, 65-60. FHS had split with the Vikings during the regular season.
It was a hostile home court advantage for Community. The Tigers scored the first basket of the night but at one point trailed 14-2 during the first period. It would be early in the fourth quarter before Fayetteville would regain the lead.
The Tigers chipped away at the deficit and trailed 20-13 at the end of one.
Fayetteville won the second frame, 18-12, led by Nicholas Hopkins with 9 points in the period. The Tigers trailed 32-31 at the break.
With 2:21 in the third, Darren Patterson knotted it at 45-45. At the four-second mark, Aaron Parks tied at 47 all going into the final frame.
At the 6:25 mark, Patterson gave the Tigers their first lead since the opening basket, 50-47, nailing a 3-pointer. With 4:05 remaining in the game, James Keith put Fayetteville up 54-53, and FHS would not trail again. Fayetteville won the final eight minutes, 18-13, to finish with the win.
James Keith led for Fayetteville with 24 points; Nicholas Hopkins followed with 15; Aaron Parks, 13; Darren Patterson, 5; Michael Parks and Cain McWilliams scored 4.
The Tigers were 12 of 19 from the line and hit three from the arch coming from Aaron Parks, Nicholas Hopkins and Darren Patterson.