Raiders find groove, beat Forrest 51-49

Logan Hegwood, Gavin Wise, and Matthew White
Logan Hegwood (left) scored the game winning basket for Moore County. Gavin Wise (top right) added three points and Matthew White (bottom right) got on the board with one from the line. | PHOTO CREDITS: Jeff Reed

LOCAL SPORTS | It’s no secret that the Moore County varsity boys’ basketball team has been in a bit of a slump this season. Heading into Tuesday’s Forrest game, the Raiders were on a six-game losing streak.

Over half of this year’s team also played on the Raiders varsity football team – one that made a historic championship run and includes this year’s Class 1A Mr. Football Dawson White. It’s taken them a minute to switch gears from football to basketball, but on Tuesday, they managed a clutch, two-point, non-conference win over the Forrest Rocket.

Tuesday’s game is the spark they need – just in time to kick off district play with a home game against Eagleville on Friday.

Raiders hold Rockets to five second period points

Forrest got on the board first with a 3-point shot and built a 7-0 lead before Moore County’s Dawson White drained a 3-point shot at the 4:36 mark. A heads up put back by Logan Hegwood three possessions later cut that to two points. With 3:37 to play in the first period, Moore County trailed 7-5.

Forrest quickly answered with a top-of-the-key jumper by Ben Villazon. After a brief time out, Forrest then went on a five-point run sparked by a 3-point play by Beau McCown and continued by a left-side jump shot by Kelly Toombs. Moore County’s last points of the period came from Dawson White, who hit a just-inside-the perimeter shot as time expired. Moore County trailed after the first period, 15-7.

The Moore County defense held Forrest on their first possession of the second period, then Dawson White found shooting room for the first points. That spark led to five unanswered points by Hegwood, Gavin Wise, and Alex Copeland to pull the Raiders within one point with a little under five minutes to play in the half.

Moore County took the lead for the first time in the game at the 3:53 mark with a right side, off-the-backboard basket underneath from Copeland. Forrest quickly answered with back-to-back scores – a 3-point shot from Tristan Good and a right side jumper by Villazon. But their points would be the last for the Rockets in the second period. The Raiders went on a nine-point run – sparked by a Copeland 3-point shot – in the final three minutes of the second period to earn a 25-20 halftime lead.

Hegwood scores the game-winning basket

Moore County and Forrest paced each other in the third period. Copeland, Dawson White, and Gavin Wise combined for eight points while Good put up all but one of the Rockets’ seven third period points. The Raiders continued to lead at the end of the third, 33-27.

Forrest attempted a comeback in the final stanza. Moore County built up a 10-point lead with a little over five minutes remaining. Then, the Rockets switched to man defense – forcing Moore County inside for shots that sometimes took an unlucky bounce.

With under two minutes to play, Forrest pulled within three points with a nothing-but-net 3-point shot from Good, but Moore County answered with a Dawson White jumper. A minute later, Forrest scored back-to-back off scores from Houston Matlock. With 16 seconds to play, Forest tied the game at 49-49.

After a Moore County time out, the Raiders got the ball back and Forrest immediately fouled Copeland – resulting in another time out with 8.4 seconds remaining. After the break, Dawson White threw the inbounds pass to Copeland, who dribbled right, before dishing the ball to a wide open Hegwood who sat waiting just outside the paint on the left side. His easy layup gave Moore County the 51-49 win as time expired.

Senior Alex Copeland led for Moore County with 18 points followed by fellow seniors Dawson White with 15 points and Logan Hegwood with 10. Three other Moore County players got on the boards: Peyton Martin (4), Gavin Wise, (3), and Matthew White (1).

Tristan Good led for Forrest with 17 points followed by Ben Villazon with 12 points.

On Friday, Moore County will face their first District 9 game of the season against the Eagleville Eagles. Just like Moore County, many Eagles ballers also played football in the 2023-24 and the Raiders may still have a bad taste in their collective mouths about the final gridiron game of the season – one that resulted in a knee injury for Raider QB Dawson White that contributed to the end of the Raiders championship run well short of the gold ball.

Can Moore County players keep their Columbia blue cool on Friday or will they be gunning for a bit of payback? Stay tuned.

Tip off of the Raiders versus Eagles game takes place immediately after the Raiderettes game. If you can’t watch in person, you can tune into the Moore County Sports Broadcasting team coverage on the NFHS Network or The Times will post live score updates on our Facebook page. •

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