Photo/Zac Chamblee

When the final buzzer sounded, Quenton Loving hugged every player he could find. Leon Jones even returned the favor and picked him up off St. Patrick’s gymnasium floor in celebration. The jubilation was a direct result of Loving’s North Forrest Eagles getting over the hump against a team that had their number for two seasons—the Collins Tigers. 

“Dating back to last year, we were 0-5 against them,” Loving said. “We had a heartbreaking loss in the district championship against them last year.”

This year, however, Loving’s team got the last laugh on the big stage, knocking off Collins in Friday’s Region 8-2A title game at St. Patrick, 64-54. 

“It just feels great,” Loving said. “The guys put in so much work every day consistently. And I’m just so excited for them because it’s finally paid off. Just to finally get over the hump and not in a regular season game but in a district championship, it just makes it that much sweeter.”

 

 

After a competitive first quarter, North Forrest began to pull away a bit in the second. The Eagles outscored the Tigers 17-7 in the period. Nick Moore put an exclamation point on the scoring run with a three-point buzzer-beater at the end of the half, giving North Forrest a 30-16 lead at the break. 

Late in the third quarter, Collins trimmed the lead to three points, 40-37, but North Forrest answered with a 5-0 run to close out the quarter. For every Tiger attempt at a comeback, the Eagles had an answer. Collins pulled to within six points three separate times in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as they could get. 

“They were determined and were not gonna be denied tonight,” Loving said. “They wanted this victory and just did all the little things.”

Joe Holloway led North Forrest with 19 points, and Brian Swanson added 18. The Eagles, who improved to 22-4 with the win, will open the Class 2A playoffs at home next Tuesday against Bogue Chitto. 

Collins, now 18-7, will also host as they welcome Amite County to town. The Tigers were led in Friday’s game by Markel McLaurin’s 23 points, and Hershey McLaurin added 17.