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Forest Grove boys hoping to regain early-season form

Vikings are in the midst of a five-game losing streak after a 3-0 start this year
by: Chase Allgood Forest Grove senior David Makus pulls down a rebound over Putnam’s Mitch Baker (45) and Jacob Garrison (44) during last Tuesday’s non-league basketball game. Makus scored 16 points in the Vikings’ 51-44 loss.

Forest Grove's hot start has given way to some cold shooting of late, and the Vikings have paid the price with five straight losses after opening the season with three straight wins.

'It's been pretty disappointing,' Forest Grove coach Greg Evers said. 'The last three games our turnovers have been horrific and we've had issues with putting the ball in the basket.

'It's hard to put a finger on it, but those are two pretty big things.'

The Vikings - whose three frontcourt starters all stand above 6-foot-3 - have struggled to put their size advantage to good use, shooting less than 40 percent from inside the paint in losses to Putnam and Woodburn last week, and continuing the trend in losses to Pendleton and Grants Pass early this week.

'We're not a great outside shooting team anyway, so we're trying to get it inside,' Evers said. 'It's kind of a catch 22, because we want to keep pounding it inside, but we're just having a hard time making shots from inside the paint.

'We're playing teams that are smaller than us, but they're being more physical and we have to get used to shooting against pressure. I think it might be time to pull out the football dummies and start banging on the kids down low so they can get some practice taking contested shots.'

Turnovers have been another major problem. In their last three games, the Vikings have turned the ball over 78 times, including 11 turnovers in the second quarter of Tuesday's game against Grants Pass, allowing the Cavemen to stretch a five-point lead into a 13-point cushion at halftime.

'The last three games we've turned the ball over 28, 26 and 24 times,' Evers said. 'That's a pretty good number for a girls game. We want to be below 15 for sure, and we're almost doubling that.'

There have been some bright spots over the last two weeks. The Vikings played Putnam tough in a 51-44 loss last Tuesday, and they gave Pendleton a run for their money at the South Salem Winter Classic on Monday, slicing a 19-point lead down to four points in the fourth quarter before falling 78-69.

Jon Cirlincione sparked the run against Pendleton, hitting a pair of three-pointers and scoring eight points in the fourth quarter. Michael Garcia finished with a team-high 18 points, while Cole Jamieson had 14 points and David Makus added eight points and 12 rebounds.

The duo of Makus and Jamieson also led the Viks against Putnam, with Makus contributing 16 points and Jamieson adding 14.

Forest Grove will get a chance to shoot itself out of its current slump today with a game against South Albany. The Rebels play at an extraordinarily high pace, averaging 81 points a game, but they are also allowing an average of 94 points a game.

No opponent has scored fewer than 82 points against South Albany this year, so Evers is hoping today's game will give his team a much-needed confidence boost.

'It's going to be an interesting game,' he said. 'It should be fun for the kids to play at that pace. They don't have to be afraid to shoot, and hopefully we can try to build up a little confidence.'