Vikings peaking with playoffs ahead
Forest Grove waits to learn its play-in round opponent
The Forest Grove girls basketball team appears to be hitting its stride at just the right time.
After kicking off the first half of its Pacific Conference slate at 2-5 with a span of mercurial play, the Lady Vikings have been one of the hottest teams in the league during the second go-round.
Prior to Fridays 58-31 setback against league-leading Tigard which has won all of its league games and none by fewer than eight points the Vikings went on a four-game win streak that included victories against two of the teams it had lost to the first time around.
I really feel like the girls are playing well, Forest Grove coach Dan Lumpkin said. Theyre playing with more confidence. This is the time you want to be playing your best basketball and I think were playing our best basketball.
Lumpkin attributes the improved play to his team being able to close out games. For example, he said, the Vikings were within a half-dozen points of Century in the fourth quarter of their first matchup and led McMinnville in the final period on the road but lost both games.
Some of those losses were just a case of we just didnt finish, Lumpkin explained. And so the next time around ... we were able to close out games and make plays when we needed to, to finish the game.
Lumpkin also said that senior posts Madi Andresen and Kaitlin Jamieson have both been playing huge for us, with both girls scoring in double figures against the Hillsboro schools, while teammates have stepped up by hitting shots from the perimeter.
The Vikings recent win streak started on Feb. 11 with a 59-48 win against Century, followed by victories against second-place Glencoe (45-39), Hillsboro (40-37) and Newberg (53-32).
Coupled with the Tigard loss, that meant that heading into Tuesdays regular-season finale against McMinnville, Forest Grove sat at 13-10 overall and 6-7 in league play, tied with Hilhi for fourth place. Against the Grizzlies, the team had one more chance to turn the tables on a squad that had bested it the first time. (Results were not available at press deadline.)
No matter how that one shook out, the Vikings could not catch anyone ahead of them for one of the conferences three automatic playoff berths. That means Forest Grove will host a play-in game on Friday, but as Lumpkin noted, the contest should be a good one given that his team will be one of the highest-ranked squads in the play-in round.
Our matchups are looking very favorable, he said.
The Forest Grove boys were also scheduled to host McMinnville on Tuesday in both teams Pacific Conference finale. The Grizzlies entered the game tied with Tualatin for second place, while the Vikings sat a game back in fourth.
No matter the outcome (results were not available at press deadline), both squads were assured of top-four finishes and two of the leagues four automatic playoff berths into the 32-team Class 6A state playoff bracket.
That means Forest Grove, which entered the Mac game at 15-8 overall and 8-5 in the Pacific Conference, will avoid the play-in round being staged this weekend. First-round matchups will be determined at the conclusion of this weekends games, and the first round is slated for March 5.
The Banks girls split contests against Seaside and Tillamook last week to end the regular season at 16-7 overall, 8-2 in Cowapa League play, meaning the Braves finish as the conference runner-up to the Seagulls.
Banks was waiting for other conferences to complete play on Tuesday to learn its opponent in this weekends play-in round.
As the No. 2 team from the Cowapa League, Banks is guaranteed to host that contest, which will likely take place Friday or Saturday. That game was not scheduled at press deadline, so check osaa.org for more information.
Banks boys finished the regular season at 9-13 overall and 3-7 in Cowapa League play to take fifth place. With other conferences wrapping up league play on Tuesday, the Braves were left waiting to see if they can sneak into this weekends play-in round an outside possibility.
Even if Banks season ended Friday, the team was much improved from last seasons 3-19, 0-10 campaign.
The Gaston girls squad ended its season on Feb. 14 at 6-16 overall and 5-11 in Northwest League play for a seventh-place finish.
Gastons boys beat second-place Knappa 44-34 on Saturday in Forest Grove to clinch the Northwest League district title (see story on page B1) and a guaranteed Class 2A first round playoff game at home.
The No. 5-seeded Greyhounds (19-5, 15-1) enter Saturdays game against No. 12 Central Linn on a 13-game winning streak. The victor advances to next weeks Class 2A state tournament in Pendleton.