For two quarters on Tuesday, the big stage got the best of North Forrest. The Eagles, who averaged 60 points per game prior, were held to just eight first half points in their first trip to Jackson since the 2000 season. At halftime of the Class 2A Semifinals, they trailed Ingomar, 15-8.
“I think it was the jitters,” North Forrest coach Quenton Loving said. “The jitters got to us with it being the first time being up here. But in the second half, we calmed down and started to look similar to how we’ve played the entire season.”
Despite that late push, Loving’s team fell short of a trip to the Class 2A title game with a 36-31 loss to the Falcons, who improved to 34-4 and advanced to face either Bay Springs or Coahoma County for the championship on Friday.
“We’ve been hanging our hat on defense all season,” Loving said. “To hold that team, which is 34-4 and kinda an offensive juggernaut, to 36 points was great. That kept us in the game while we were trying to find our footing on offense.
“We never really did.”
The Eagles did cut the Ingomar lead to two points, 32-30, with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter off a three-point play from Cleveland Williams. But that was as close as North Forrest could get down the stretch. Ingomar connected on a pair of free throws in the final minute to seal the win. The Eagles, on the other hand, went 7-for-16 from the charity stripe for the game’s entirety.
“That didn’t help,” Loving said. “We went and practiced at Southern Miss on Sunday to try and get a feel for the depth perception, but that’s how things turned out.”
Williams led North Forrest with 10 points, and Xzavier Barnes chipped in seven for the Eagles, who finish their storybook season 25-5.
“Special group of seniors and just an overall group,” Loving said. “The chemistry was great. They loved playing with each other and didn’t care who got the credit. I told them that I’m so proud of them, and I’m thankful for them bringing me along for the ride this season.”