BASKETBALL: Forest Grove drops its league opener at home against a surging Newberg team
by: Chase Allgood, Forest Grove sophomore Rebecca Kelsay tries to slip past Newberg’s Hannah Munger during last Friday’s game.

Prior to last Friday's Pacific Conference opener against Newberg, the Forest Grove girls basketball program honored two of its most famous alumni.

Forest Grove head coach Po Waiwaiole brought back former headmaster Don Adams, who guided the 1985-86 Lady Vikings to the first league championship in school history.

Adams was honored with a brief ceremony and an award to be given out annually in his honor. The first recipient of the Don Adams Award was 1988 Forest Grove graduate Missy Smith, who starred on the court for the Vikings before going off to play four seasons of Division I basketball at Gonzaga and Oregon State.

'Missy was one of the first women of that generation to not only move the game forward as a player, but also give back to the game as a coach,' Waiwaiole said. 'She deserves a lot of credit as a pioneer.'

Forest Grove could have used some help from both Adams and Smith once the game tipped off. The Lady Vikings fell off the pace set by Newberg (4-6, 1-0) in the second quarter, then allowed the visiting Lady Tigers to pull away after the break for a 49-36 victory.

Following the game, the sometimes-too-honest Waiwaiole admitted to making a few tactical coaching blunders.

'We had some success early on forcing turnovers and, quite frankly, I tried to chase that and started pressing more than we normally do,' Waiwaiole said. 'I think it was a combination of Newberg playing better than we saw in the three games we scouted them and me making some tactically bad decisions.'

Forest Grove struggled to score inside against 6-foot-4 Newberg junior Hannah Munger. At the other end of the court, Newberg shot extremely well and built an eight-point halftime lead that grew to 13 by the end of the third quarter.

'We like to play transition basketball. But you have to get some defensive stops in order to get favorable matchups in transition,' Waiwaiole said. 'We would give them easy baskets, then have to go to the other end and play five-on-five against a team that has an aircraft carrier in the middle.'

Forest Grove (4-7, 0-1) got 11 points from Kendra Berning and eight from Taylor Janac. Newberg was paced by Mary Suing's 16-point effort. Elizabeth Peterson added 11 points, while Cassie Swayze and Munger had eight apiece.

The silver lining for Waiwaiole was waking up Saturday morning to see that No. 7 Tigard and No. 9 Canby - early favorites to win the Pacific Conference title - both lost on Friday as well.

Tigard fell to reigning league champ Tualatin, while McMinnville routed Canby by 17 points in a surprising result.

'We need to realize that there's 14 games left,' Waiwaiole said. 'After seeing how the other games in the league shook out, who knows what the heck is going to happen?'

The Lady Vikings will have a tall order in the coming weeks, however, with three straight road games against Canby, Tigard and Tualatin.

'That's kind of a murderer's row,' Waiwaiole said.

Forest Grove was scheduled to play Canby on Tuesday, but the game was postponed due to the weather. The Lady Vikings will travel to Tigard on Friday.

Prior to the league opener last Friday, Forest Grove traveled to Redmond for a holiday tournament from Dec. 27-29. The Lady Viks won two of their three games, topping Hillsboro and Hood River Valley while dropping a close decision against the hosts from Redmond.

'We won two of our games and we played really well in our one loss,' Waiwaiole said. 'I felt really good about the experience we got there. I would have felt better if we hadn't lost on Friday [against Newberg].'

During Friday's ceremony to honor Smith and Adams, Forest Grove also retired Smith's No. 32 jersey. Senior April Maslen, who had worn the number, will wear No. 40 for the rest of the season.

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