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Vikings stay in playoff chase

Forest Grove splits with Tualatin and Glencoe to remain one game out of fourth place in the Pacific Conference


When Forest Grove’s offense is clicking, the Vikings sure are fun to watch.by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove sophomore Angler Emerick splits two Glencoe defenders during last Friday's Pacific Conference boys basketball game.

Forest Grove gave its fans a treat last Friday for “Jam the Gym Night,” with a near-capacity crowd on hand to watch the Vikings hammer Glencoe, 81-46. Junior point guard Michael Garcia had a game-high 29 points, including a stretch in the third quarter when he made four straight three-pointers and singlehandedly took the Vikings on a 13-0 run.

“That was a good one against Glencoe,” Forest Grove head coach Greg Evers said. “It was a pretty wild night. We had a packed gym and it was loud in there.”

The big crowd got to see Forest Grove at its best — the Vikings forced 23 turnovers, made 14 three-pointers and had 11 different players score in the victory.

Garcia’s 29 points led the way, but Taylor Jensen contributed nine points and nine rebounds, and Zac Collins added seven points, seven steals and five assists.

The Vikings (12-7, 4-5) built a 15-2 lead from the opening tip, but Glencoe kept things close with a 9-0 run to end the first quarter. Forest Grove regrouped after the break and outscored Glencoe 25-5 over the next eight minutes, building a comfortable 40-16 lead at halftime.

If Friday’s game showcased Forest Grove at its best, last Tuesday’s 104-75 loss against Tualatin shined a light on some of the Vikings’ deficiencies.

In that game, Forest Grove turned the ball over 34 times, allowing Tualatin 16 extra field goal attempts, and the Vikings were ultimately buried by one bad quarter, when Tualatin went on a 34-15 run before halftime.

“We just couldn’t get over the hump,” Evers said. “We were down 16 points, and if we could have hit a couple shots, got it into single digits, then maybe things would have been different. But we just got into too big of a hole.”

Things looked good for the Vikings in the early going last Tuesday, with Forest Grove hitting four three-pointers in the first quarter en route to a 27-26 lead, but Tualatin came storming back in the second quarter. The Timberwolves only missed three shots in the period, making six three-pointers and surging to a 60-39 halftime lead.

“They were spreading it around pretty well. They had a lot of different kids scoring for them. They shot really well on the night,” Evers said of Tualatin, which went 16-of-35 from three-point range.

Jensen led the Vikings with 16 points, and Garcia added 15 points and four assists. Collins had another strong all-around game, with five points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

With five games left in the regular season, Forest Grove still sits in fifth place in the Pacific Conference standings, a game behind rival McMinnville, which beat the Vikings 52-50 with a buzzer-beater on Jan. 18.

“We lost to Mac at the buzzer, and that’s the one that really hurts right now,” Evers said. “If everything falls the way it’s supposed to, then it would come down to us versus McMinnville (on Feb. 19) for fourth place.

“I’m OK with where we’re at right now. We’ve still got a lot of games left.”

The top four finishers in the conference earn automatic bids to the Class 6A state playoffs, while the remaining teams must win a play-in game to earn a postseason invitation.

Despite trailing McMinnville, Evers is confident that his team belongs in the playoff hunt.

“We’ve played with the top three teams in the league for stretches, we just haven’t been able to do it for 32 minutes,” he said. “We know we can play with those teams if we can just put together a full game.”

Regardless of where the Vikings wind up, Evers has been encouraged by the progress this year’s team has made.

“Our goal was 14 wins and we’re at 12 now with five games left, so we’re right on track for where we want to be,” Evers said. “The program’s definitely on the upswing, that’s for sure.”



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