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Lady Vikings off to hot start

Undersized Forest Grove girls show off resiliency in a pair of early season non-conference victories
by: Chase Allgood Forest Grove sophomore Madi Andresen looks for an opening against The Dalles-Wahtonka during last Friday’s game.

The Forest Grove girls basketball team got an early taste of what will likely be a familiar theme this season, squaring off last week against a pair of bigger, stronger opponents in The Dalles-Wahtonka and Dallas, but the Lady Vikings more than held their own in both games, leaving head coach Dan Lumpkin optimistic about his undersized team's chances this year.

Forest Grove doesn't have a player taller than 5-foot-11 on this year's roster, but the Lady Vikings played much bigger in a 51-43 road win over Dallas last Wednesday and a 54-42 triumph over The Dalles on Friday.

'We're seeing some good things so far,' Lumpkin said. 'There are definitely areas that need to be fixed, but it's early. I thought we did a good job of being physical inside.'

Against Dallas, a team with four players taller than 5-9, the Lady Vikings were able to outrebound and outmuscle the Dragons down low, turning a potential deficiency into an advantage in an eight-point road win.

'They were the bigger team. They had some pretty good-sized post players,' Lumpkin said. 'We were able to attack the hoop pretty well. We beat them off the dribble and were able to get to the hoop and draw some fouls.'

The Lady Viks went 23-for-31 from the free throw line and pulled away in the fourth quarter, helping to erase memories of the team's season-opening 47-32 loss to Liberty.

'It was good to get that first road win, especially since we didn't play particularly well in our first game,' Lumpkin said. 'We fixed some things that we didn't do so well (against Liberty). I was really happy with the way we played.'

Taylor Lira had 15 points and five rebounds against Dallas, while Abby Jensen led the Vikings with 13 rebounds.

Two nights later against The Dalles-Wahtonka, Forest Grove once again found itself matched up against a bigger opponent, but the Lady Viks scrapped their way to a 12-point win behind an excellent all-around game from Jessica Ortmann, who finished with 14 points, four rebounds, three steals and three blocks.

'They were another big, physical team, but we were able to hold our own,' Lumpkin said. 'We battled and didn't back down, then we were able to pull away late.'

Hope Fletcher added nine points for Forest Grove, which had to turn around and face Sunset on Saturday, capping a stretch of three games in four days.

Things didn't go quite as well against the Apollos, whose trapping defense gave Forest Grove considerable problems in a 41-35 loss.

'They came out and were very aggressive. They trapped in the half-court and just outworked us,' Lumpkin said. 'We made some critical mistakes at the wrong times.'

The Lady Vikings trailed by as many as 13 point with four minutes to go, but were able to narrow the gap to four points in the final minute behind a pair of three-pointers from Lira.

'We made a little run, we just couldn't get any closer,' Lumpkin said. 'That part was encouraging, but the whole second and third quarters we just didn't play.'

After hanging around early, Forest Grove managed only seven points in the second and third quarters combined, allowing Sunset to build a sizeable lead.

'We just couldn't get anything going in those two quarters,' Lumpkin said. 'We just had too many turnovers and too many mistakes.'

Jensen led the Lady Viks with a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Hannah Swanson and Madi Andresen chipped in nine points apiece.

Forest Grove (2-2) will host Milwaukie on Friday, then travel to Parkrose on Monday before taking some time off over winter break. The Lady Vikings will play in a holiday tournament at Canby High School on Dec. 28-30.

'I've seen some good things and some bad things, but it's still early,' Lumpkin said. 'I think we're executing offensively at times. A couple times we've scored 18 points in a quarter, which is good, we just need to do that more consistently.'