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Grant out of way, Lincoln presses on

Prep Watch • Cardinals are at top of PIL 6A but face
by:  KATIE HARTLEY, Grant’s Patti Polk tries for a shot that’s thwarted by Lincoln’s Kelsey Goodell (left) in a game Lincoln won 53-41, affirming the Cardinals’ position atop the league.

For now, at least, the Lincoln Cardinals still are the team to beat in PIL 6A girls basketball. The Cardinals reaffirmed their position with a 53-41 home victory Friday over Grant and its 6-4 freshman standout, Krystal Forthan.

Lincoln used better depth, outside shooting and experience, along with a full-court press featuring some long-armed defenders, to bust out to a double-figure lead in the first quarter.

Grant, down 32-23 at the half, closed the gap to three late in the third quarter but couldn't get over the hump.

'I was disappointed in the third quarter -we take pride in that,' Lincoln coach Jeff Peeler says.

Lincoln recovered and won behind solid games up front by athletic junior Aliyah Green (18 points) and senior Kelsey Goodell (10) and the marksmanship of sophomore Alexis Gleason (14).

'Who gets the shots doesn't matter; I've got four or five kids who can score,' Peeler says.

Peeler didn't substitute as much as he normally does, though, as he tried to make sure the Cardinals would come out ahead in such a key game.

'We're just trying to survive Krystal while we can,' he says.

• The Cardinals are seeking their fourth outright or co-league title in five seasons. They'll step outside of league play Wednesday but will have to step up their play a couple of notches. Lincoln plays at 12-0 Jefferson, the state's No 1-ranked 5A team, in the first of a home-and-home, nonleague series.

• One interested spectator at the Lincoln-Grant game was Lisa Channel, a former all-state player for Jackson High who went on to star at Oregon State (where she played with Grant coach Missy Smith).

Channel came to see Forthan for the first time.

'Whoa - she's fantastic,' Channel says. 'She has a lot of potential - it's very possible she doesn't even realize how much potential she has.'

Channel played PIL games against 6-2 Cindy Brown, who probably dominated girls basketball in Oregon more than anyone. Brown set the state scoring record while at Grant, became an All-American at Long Beach State and won an Olympic gold medal in 1988.

'It's kind of like comparing Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan; Kobe has his game, and Jordan had his game. Same thing with Cindy and Krystal,' Channel says.

Channel says Forthan has a lot to do before she can be at Brown's level of performance, but she believes Forthan can have a major impact, too.

'Cindy grew up playing basketball at the park. She handled the ball, she passed it, she scored from anywhere and she was tough,' Channel says. 'But once Krystal gets to that gear of pushing herself and going beyond the limits … watch out, PIL. I already see a lot of little things that are impressive. There was one play where she was defending on the wing and in a heartbeat she got back underneath the basket to help out. You just can't teach things like that.'

• As yet, Forthan hasn't been the focal point of the Generals' offense. Grant starts four other seniors and relies mostly on its quick backcourt, Shaquala West and Patti Polk, for drives and jump shots.

At Lincoln, Forthan scored only four points and took just six shots, making two. Her first field-goal attempt didn't come until the final 40 seconds of the first half. She finished with five rebounds, two blocks, one steal and one assist.

Forthan rarely posts up - Smith says that part of her game needs work - and both her baskets against Lincoln came on layups off inbound passes from under the basket.

While Forthan's long-term future - at a Division I college or in the WNBA -probably will be as a wing, the position she basically plays for Grant, Channel would encourage her to develop the inside game, too.

Channel, who sat with Forthan's family at the Lincoln game, says she would love the opportunity to work with the Grant frosh, 'but that's up to Missy.'

• The Lincoln and Grant girls will meet two more times, Jan. 31 at Lincoln and Feb. 12 at Grant.

The league champion will have an easier route than the runner-up to the state tournament at Chiles Center. The PIL 6A winner gets a bye into the second round of the playoffs and can be one of eight teams at the tourney by winning only one game (over the Mt. Hood Conference No. 2 seed, which could be Reynolds, or the No. 4 team from the Three Rivers League). The PIL 6A's second-place team, however, will have to beat the Metro League's No. 4 seed in the first round and then win on the road against the MHC champion, probably Central Catholic.

More basketball

• It looks like Friday's Grant-Jefferson boys matchup at Jeff could be called the unofficial city championship game. It's not a league contest, with Grant (7-2) ranked No. 2 in the state in 6A and Jefferson (8-1) No. 2 in 5A, and it's their only meeting. The Democrats won 71-65 last season.

Jefferson coach Marshall Haskins isn't hyping this year's showdown, though. 'It's just another game,' he says. 'We don't change what we do. We're going to press and trap and shoot 3s and go inside, and hopefully get another win.'

• Portland Christian's teams are sitting pretty in the 2A Northwest League after a sweep of De La Salle on Friday. The boys won 65-44, and the girls prevailed 47-32.

That pushed the Royals' boys record to 6-0 in league, with De La Salle and Knappa at 5-1. 'It'll be a tight race,' PC assistant coach Adam Decker says. 'All three teams have a good chance.' The Portland Christian girls, who are ranked No. 1 in the state 2A/1A poll, are 5-0 in league and 14-1 overall. The boys have won two straight league titles, while the girls have won four in a row.

PIL Hall of Fame

The PIL Hall of Fame has donated $5,000 in the name of Mel Krause to the Cleveland Community Field Project Fund.

Krause, a member of the PIL Hall board of directors, is one of the founders of the organization as it is constituted today. He also is a member of the PIL Hall, having been an outstanding athlete at Cleveland (then Commerce) High in football, basketball and baseball and having coached at Franklin, where his team won the 1956 state boys basketball title. He also has served for many years on the Cleveland alumni board of directors.

The money will help match a $20,000 grant from an anonymous Cleveland alum that will be used for installation of the necessary track and field runways.

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