Wildcats fall to Yellow Jackets in State Semifinal
Forest committed 26 turnovers in lopsided loss
LAKELAND, Fla. (WCJB) - The Forest Wildcats had overcome a halftime deficit in each of their last four playoff games on their way to the Class 6A State Semifinal, but their comeback effort and hopes of a an appearance in the state title game fell short against Bartow Thursday night.
The Wildcats opened with high energy and knocked down two-three pointers in the opening period, thanks to standout big man, Brenen Lorient and quick-strike guard, Aaron Stelogeannis to take a brief lead, 10-8.
But once the defending state champion Yellow Jackets settled in and applied their full-court press, the wheels began to fall of the Wildcats train.
Forest committed 26 turnovers in the contest, made just 10 of 27 shots from the field, and were out-rebounded 33-22.
Bartow claimed the lead at intermission, 28-17, but quickly expanded it in the third quarter by outscoring Forest 16-5.
Over the course of the final two quarters, the Wildcats only mustered seven points, while Bartow put up 35 to eventually induce a running clock to end the game.
The 63-24 loss was a tough pill to swallow for Forest, but the team returns 11 players next year, including Lorient and two-sport star Elijah Russell.
After the game head coach Spencer Ashley said he’d take some time off to spend with his wife and daughter, but is anxious to get back to work and build toward a return to Lakeland next season.
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