EAST BEND - Rivalry games in sports always add extra allure to any matchup.
Friday’s Unifi Bowl meeting between the Lady Rams and Forbush was no different.
The Falcons jumped out to a huge, first-quarter lead before watching Starmount storm back. Trailing by six with 5:05 remaining, Forbush closed the game on a 9-0 run, highlighted by former Ram Paris Trivette’s last-second steal, as the Falcons held on for the wild 55-52 victory.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Starmount head coach Doug Chilton explained. “We got off to a bad start. We gave up several threes when we were trying to play some zone. But when we switched to man-to-man, I thought we really played with intensity. We did a good job of coming back on Forbush.”
The Lady Falcons came out on fire, knocking down five treys in the opening quarter - two by Savannah Hill and Brittany Moose each - jumping out to a 22-4 lead late in the first.
With their backs against the wall, Starmount started chipping away at the deficit. After a Brayln Hampton trifecta to close out the first quarter, the Rams out-scored Forbush 21-11 in the second to head into the break only down five at 33-28.
Starmount opened the third on a 9-3 burst and took its first lead of the game at 37-36 on a Miracle Walters baseline drive with 5:20 left. The basket capped an impressive 32-14 run that spanned parts of three quarters to get the Rams back into the game.
Now a ballgame, the rivals traded blows as Starmount grabbed a 48-42 lead after scoring eight-straight points to open the fourth.
Forbush head coach Bradley Shore called a timeout as the Falcons regrouped. Coming out of the timeout, Forbush turned up the defensive pressure, holding the Rams scoreless over the final 5:05.
The Falcons sank 5-of-8 free throws over that stretch to take a 53-52 lead with 2:24 remaining.
After a Forbush turnover on the inbounds with 12.4 left, Starmount had a chance for the win to complete the comeback.
Guilford College signee Heaven Walters dribbled the ball upcourt looking to run the final play. But Trivette, who played at Starmount last season, picked Walters’ pocket and dribbled the ball down the court. Moose, another former Ram, grabbed the loose ball and hit a shot at the buzzer to give Forbush the thrilling three-point victory.
“We had a lot of success running the pick-and-roll with Heaven and Miracle, plus we had two good shooters on the backside. We thought we could get one good look out of it,” Chilton said, explaining the final play. “It just so happened they shot the gap and picked her off. We went to something that had been working the whole ballgame and it just didn’t work out that time.”
Heaven Walters powered Starmount’s comeback with 22 points, while sister Miracle tacked on 14. Hampton added a dozen points before going down with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.
Despite coming up short, Chilton said he is pleased with where his young team is midway through the season.
“We just need a little more experience on how to hold onto a lead and how to execute under pressure. Besides that, we’re definitely going into the right direction,” he said. “We’re right where we want to be right now at this time of year.
“Hopefully we just keep getting better and by the time we get into the conference tournament, we’ve cleaned up some of this and have learned from our mistakes,” Chilton added.
The Lady Rams (2-5, 2-3) return to the court Tuesday night against Alleghany.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.