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Vikings tested at basketball tourney

Girls take care of Franklin, but fall to No. 3 ranked Oregon City

ALOHA - After a rough game against state powerhouse Oregon City, the Forest Grove Lady Vikings bounced back to beat the depleted Franklin Quakers and claim third place in the Warrior Tip-Off Tournament last weekend at Aloha High School.

Forest Grove opened their season by taking on the No. 3 ranked Oregon City Pioneers of the Three Rivers Conference. Last season the Pioneers finished second in the state, which was a disappointment compared to the four consecutive 4A state championships they won from 2001-2004. Last year the Lady Viks narrowly missed the state playoffs, taking fifth in the conference at 8-8.

The game started out innocently enough with the Lady Viks winning the tip-off and going straight to the hoop with a basket by junior April Maslen. Oregon City responded just as quickly by draining several 3-pointers from beyond the arc. Forest Grove's game picked up with quick inbound passes and precise movements down the court. The ball spent more time in the air then on the hardwood whenever Forest Grove had the ball as they tried to use their speed and ball handling skills to upset Oregon City.

Strong showings from seniors Nikki Kemper, Sallye Alexander and Sarah Amina kept the team going, but in the end the height and agility of the Pioneers won out, causing the Lady Viks to start their season with a devastating 86-41 loss.

Despite the lopsided loss, Forest Grove head coach Po Waiwaiole felt a game against the third-best team in the state can only benefit his squad in the long run.

'We don't fear teams like Oregon City. That is the level of play we are trying to obtain, so playing them helps us,' said Waiwaiole. 'I would rather play a team like this, so that we play up to their level.'

Waiwaiole added that the style of play Oregon City uses is similar to that of teams in the Pacific Conference, so playing the Pioneers helps prepare the Lady Viks for their league games that begin in January.

In the second game of the tournament, however, the Lady Viks were the dominators as they pummeled a young Quaker team from Franklin high school, 70-24.

It was apparent after the first quarter that the match-up was uneven as Forest Grove led 15-0. It was not until 3:43 remained in the second quarter that the Quakers got their first points, which came from sophomore Ashley Sloan. Sloan was at the line shooting two free throws after being fouled.

Throughout the first half the Lady Viks showed their teamwork as they spread the ball around to seven different scorers. Leading the way were Alexander with 11 points and fellow senior Sarah Rivera with 10 points.

The tandem of Alexander and Rivera would lead the rest of the way for the Lady Viks, finishing with 16 and 17 points, respectively. For Rivera, the 17-point outburst was a career high.

'I think my high before this was maybe 10 points, so this is great,' said an excited Rivera after the game on Saturday.

Rivera and her teammates were beaming as they drank Gatorade and prepared to watch the Forest Grove boys, who were warming up to take on Franklin as well. According to Rivera, the team is taking the season one game at a time, fixing mistakes along the way and not dwelling on previous games.

Other key contributors on the night included Maslen with 10 points, Amina with nine, Taylor Janac with eight and junior Chantel Martinez with seven.

This week the Lady Viks had another date with a Top 10 team, squaring off on the road against West Linn on Tuesday. Although the game ended too late to make it in the print edition, a full recap is available on the News-Times' web site at www.fgnewstimes.com.

Last season the two-game series between Forest Grove and West Linn was split one game apiece with the home team winning each time.

The Lady Vikings open at home against Milwaukie on Dec. 15 with a special ceremony at halftime to honor the 1985-86 league championship team.