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Forest Grove girls suffer a 47-31 setback in their final tune-up before league play

Squaring off against a highly ranked Clackamas squad on Monday, the Forest Grove girls basketball team faced its toughest opponent of the season to date.

After a slow start, the Vikings did not get the result they wanted, but the outing — a 47-31 loss at Joe Moran Court — was a productive one nonetheless.

“Defensively, you hold a team like that into the 40s, you think you’re going to give yourself a chance,” Forest Grove coach Dan Lumpkin said. “Defensively, we took a lot of good things away from that. We battled them defensively.”

Clackamas (10-2) sat at No. 5 in the Class 6A power rankings as of Tuesday afternoon, so the matchup allowed Forest Grove (7-3) to test itself against one of the state’s elite teams just before the start of Pacific Conference play.

The Cavaliers rode a solid offensive night by Erica Pagano, a 6-foot senior post who led all scorers with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. A tough Forest Grove defense allowed no other Cavalier to reach double digits in scoring, but the Vikings could not quite generate enough offense of their own to flip the outcome.

After both teams got off to a bit of a slow start in the first quarter — the score was just 2-2 halfway through the stanza — Clackamas led 25-12 at halftime and expanded the advantage to 19 points midway through the third.

The Vikings did not go away, however. Kaitlin Jamieson’s offensive rebound and putback late in the third cut the deficit to 36-26, but Forest Grove could get no closer. Pagano helped Clackamas spurt back out by knocking down a 3-pointer to open the fourth-quarter scoring, and she added a runner in the paint to increase the margin to 43-27.

Playing with a lot of grit and hustle, Madi Andresen contributed 12 points for the Vikings. Mary Hutchins notched seven points and Emilia Anderson added five. And while Jamieson had a quiet night on the offensive end with three points, she was frequently disruptive on the defensive end of the floor, getting in passing lanes and providing two resonant blocks.

“Our goal was to step up our defense as a whole. We’ve been working on that the last few weeks,” Andresen said. “I was really proud of our defense tonight.”

On offense, the Vikings were perhaps a bit too casual initially, turning the ball over a number of times in the first period and not recording their fourth point of the contest until about six-and-a-half minutes in. The Cavaliers similarly struggled early on but found their offensive rhythm more quickly, taking a 3-2 lead on Sydney Azorr’s free throw midway through the quarter and adding 10 more points before the end of the period.

“First half, we were just way too careless with the ball,” Lumpkin said. “We weren’t executing. We were playing panicked, not taking care of the ball. Our passes were sailing and going over our heads and going out of bounds a lot of the time.

“Those are things that can be fixed. It’s not a fact that we were just overmatched at all positions.”

Forest Grove never did recapture the lead after going down 3-2, but the squad did come out in the second half playing more intent and purposeful ball. The Vikings were most productive on offense in the third quarter, when they scored 14 points. Andresen had a lot to do with that, scoring seven consecutive points in a roughly 90-second span on a reverse, a drive to the basket and a 3-pointer.

“I’ve had a couple rough games the last few weeks, so my goal tonight was to step up the energy, because I knew when I play at a higher tempo, I usually play better all-around,” Andresen noted.

Playing a top team in Clackamas so close to the start of conference play could prove of great use to the Vikings, who face another strong matchup in their conference opener on Friday. That night, Forest Grove travels to No. 10 Hilhi, which was undefeated heading into its final nonconference game on Tuesday.

The Spartans finished last in the league a season ago but have surged to a 9-0 start this year thanks in part to the play of returning first team all-conference guard Lauren Lykins and junior transfer Tarea Green. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:45 p.m. The Spartans and Vikings boys follow at 7:15.

“I love where we’re at,” Lumpkin said. “I really think we’re prepared to play the teams in our league. I think we are going to compete night in, night out. I really like our chances.”

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