End of the Road

GIRLS BASKETBALL: Forest Grove gets bounced from the 6A girls basketball playoffs with a frustrating 71-33 loss to Mount Hood League champ Central Catholic
by: Zack Palmer, Forest Grove senior Sarah Amina gets off a jump shot over the outstretched arm of Central Catholic’s Becky Goll in the first half of Tuesday’s game.

PORTLAND - David was no match for Goliath last Tuesday night.

Forest Grove, which entered the OSAA 6A Girls Basketball Playoffs unranked, unheralded and sub-.500 on the season, was run off the court by No. 1 Central Catholic, the regular-season Mount Hood League champ, owner of a 19-game win streak and five victories over Top 10 teams this year.

Central Catholic (23-2) was bigger, stronger, faster and more talented than the visiting Lady Vikings, and the result was a humbling 71-33 playoff exit for Forest Grove (11-14).

'We played pretty good defense and we were working hard,' said Forest Grove head coach Po Waiwaiole. 'It's just that they're pretty good.'

Central Catholic forced 24 turnovers and used a huge rebounding advantage to run away with Tuesday's first-round state playoff game. The Lady Rams led 18-5 by the end of the first quarter and killed a potential Forest Grove rally near the end of the half with back-to-back 3-pointers from Marija Boise and Chelsey Christensen.

Central Catholic led 29-13 at the break, then ran away with the game in the second half, outscoring Forest Grove 42-20.

'We're used to a certain kind of game. We've played really good teams who have a certain tempo, a certain style. Central Catholic's just really good,' said Waiwaiole. 'It's not because they stole the ball from us 35 times, it's not because they went down like Tualatin and shot 500 3-pointers. They were just better than us.'

Forest Grove senior Sallye Alexander had a team-high 11 points, but was overwhelmed by Central Catholic's swarming interior defense. The 6-foot-5 Alexander didn't make a field goal until the second half, and scored five of her points from the free throw line. She finished the game with just two rebounds.

Alexander's inability to crash the boards was indicative of Central Catholic's dominating physical presence in the paint. The Lady Rams outrebounded Forest Grove 37-18, often getting second, third or fourth chances at missed shots.

'We watched four different games on tape, and [Central Catholic was] the leading rebounder in all four games, including the one they lost,' said Waiwaiole. 'They were just bigger than us. We were hoping we could battle, but there were a couple possessions where they took three or more shots.'

Katy Wade, a 6-foot-2 junior, and Becky Goll, a 6-foot senior, set the tone early, combining for half of Central Catholic's 18 first-quarter points. Wade had six points, five rebounds and four blocks in the first quarter alone.

Forest Grove sliced the lead to 11 points midway through the second period, but Boise, Central Catholic's senior point guard, hit a deep 3-pointer with 1:10 left and Christensen followed with a three from the right corner on the Rams' next possession to make it a 16-point game at halftime.

Things spiraled out of control in the second half. Central Catholic sophomore Kate Lanz sparked a 15-4 run with nine points in a little over five minutes, and Goll added six points in the frame as the Rams padded their lead to 28. The starters sat down in the fourth quarter, but even Central Catholic's second unit was too much for Forest Grove, going on a 20-10 binge that included 11 points from junior Yianna Nadeau.

'I really thought the game turned late in the second quarter,' said Waiwaiole. 'We had it down to 11 and we missed like four chances, including a couple one-and-ones. All totaled, that's six points right there. If we slide that back down into single digits and escape the quarter, I thought we could have put some pressure on them. But they hit back-to-back threes on the next two possessions and that really hurt.'

Lanz finished with a game-high 13 points, while Nadeau added 11, all in the fourth quarter. Goll had 11 points and six rebounds, and Wade finished with six points, seven boards and four blocks. Ashley Reed had four points and seven rebounds in limited action off the bench, and Dani Klupenger chipped in nine points. The Rams shot 45 percent from the field (28 for 62).

Forest Grove got 10 points from Sarah Amina and five from April Maslen. The Lady Viks shot a dreadful 31 percent from the floor (13 for 42).

Waiwaiole acknowledged that Central Catholic's big advantage on the boards was a main reason the Rams were able to control the game from start to finish.

'In the halfcourt we limited their penetration, we did an OK job of denying the post entry passes, but the reason why they won, I thought, was because they got the ball inside off the rebound,' he said. 'Our thinking was, if you make a couple 3-pointers, great. But we've got to stop you from getting the ball inside.'

Goll, Wade and junior post Courtney Flynn combined for 18 rebounds, while Forest Grove's three best rebounders - Alexander, Maslen and junior Taylor Janac - pulled down just six boards between them.

'[The officials] let a lot more things go. That's playoff basketball,' said Waiwaiole of the intense action under the basket. 'The refs aren't going to make it a free throw parade. They don't want the No. 1 team in the state losing because they gave 40 free throws to some team that's ranked whatever we aren't.

'They don't blow the whistles as much, period. And we didn't do a good job of adjusting to that.'

The game marked the end of the road for six Forest Grove seniors - Alexander, Amina, Nikki Kemper, Amanda Godinez, Tina Freeman and Sarah Rivera.

Central Catholic advanced to the second round of the state playoffs, where they defeated Roseburg 41-26 on Friday night. Next up for the Rams is a state quarterfinal game against Oregon City tonight at the Chiles Center.