Vikings open the season with two straight losses

ALOHA - The Forest Grove boys basketball team began the season in all too familiar fashion - with losses.

Last year the Vikings opened their season with a heartbreaking one-point overtime loss to the Eagles of Hood River Valley, 38-39. Three days later, losses to Skyview (Wash.) and Aloha at the Warrior Tip-Off Tournament capped a tough opening week.

This year the Viks suffered a similar fate, dropping games against Oregon City and Franklin in the same tip-off tournament at Aloha High School.

Oregon City clobbered the Vikings 82-43 on Friday, using their height and experience to rout the youngsters from Forest Grove.

Looking at the Pioneers' roster, they had a significant advantage with two players at 6-foot-9 and three more listed at 6-foot-4. Forest Grove's tallest players, by contrast, are Mike VandeBergh and Codey Hills, a pair of 6-foot-3 posts.

'We expected a rough start,' said Forest Grove head coach Doug Hofmeister. 'They have two starters that will be drafted by Division I schools.'

Another advantage for Oregon City was their post-seasons experience. Last year the Pioneers took second in the Three Rivers Conference at 10-4, with only undefeated Lake Oswego having a better season. The Pioneers not only made the state tournament, but also nearly made the championship game, losing to the eventual state champion Crusaders of Jesuit in the third round.

Although the score wasn't close, Hofmeister said afterward that he was proud of the way his team played, commenting that the Viks did not back down and stuck with Oregon City all the way.

The Vikings' second game of the tournament showed signs of improvement and forward progress even though the team came up short in a 55-45 loss to Franklin.

With renewed energy and solid defense leading the way, the Vikings' second game of the season was bound to have a more positive outcome then the first. At the end of the first half Forest Grove had a five-point lead at 22-17, including 11 points from Hills and three from senior Brock Christensen.

However, the Quakers opened the second half with five unanswered points, knotting the game at 22. Franklin never looked back. With only four points coming from Viking shooters, the third quarter ended with an eight-point Quaker lead at 26-34.

Franklin added full court pressure in the fourth quarter to preserve its lead, and the Quakers seemed to get every roll that Forest Grove could not.

'Last summer Franklin beat us bad, so I'm proud of the way we played them this time,' said Hofmeister. 'It's a disappointment to lose, but Franklin had 13 offensive rebounds, which is a lot of second chances.'

For Forest Grove, Hills led the way in scoring with 15 points while VandeBergh had eight and Christensen added seven.

This week the Vikings take on Reynolds Tuesday night and Hood River Valley on Friday. The matchup with the Eagles is a much-anticipated rematch of last year's season opener, which Hood River won in overtime. That game will be covered for the News-Times' web site, and a full game recap will be available shortly after the final buzzer.

'Getting wins in both games and ending the week at 2-2 is the goal,' said Hofmeister. 'We will continue to improve and stay positive to help us throughout the season and maybe win some games we aren't expected to win.'

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