Forest Grove's season ends with a 54-39 setback against Crater in the first round of the playoffs

Forest Grove started out strong, but Crater finished even stronger last Tuesday, and the Comets walked away with a 54-39 victory in the first round of the Class 6A girls basketball state playoffs.

“We came out strong in the first couple minutes,” said Forest Grove head coach Dan Lumpkin, whose squad opened the game on a 10-2 run. “But from there they were able to get back into it, and in the second half they started to pull away a little bit.”

The loss ended a successful season for Forest Grove (15-11), which didn’t advance to this week’s state tournament in Portland, but did win its most games since the 2005-06 season and land four players on the all-Pacific Conference team (see sidebar).

“We had a good year and a great group of seniors,” Lumpkin said. “These six girls have been on varsity for multiple years. They’ve been there every step of the way and they’ve been great role models for the younger kids.”

Tuesday’s playoff loss marked the final game for seniors Kaitlin Jamieson, Madi Andresen, Shelby Turner, Emilia Anderson, Hannah Swanson and Mary Hutchins. Jamieson, a first team all-league selection, led Forest Grove with 13 points, while Andresen, an honorable mention pick, added 12.

“The girls played hard,” Lumpkin said. “It was a well-played game on both sides.”

Crater (17-9) overcame its slow start to pull within one point at the end of the first quarter, and the Comets eventually surged ahead and took a 29-25 lead into halftime.

The game turned in the second half when Crater’s up-tempo offense sparked to life behind some improved 3-point shooting. The Comets stretched their lead to seven points by the end of the third quarter and continued to pull away in the final stanza.

“Crater is a pretty small team, so they press a lot and push the tempo, and they shoot a lot of threes,” Lumpkin said. “We struggled shooting from the perimeter, so they were able to squeeze the middle and force us to shoot from the outside. They made it tough for our posts inside.

“In the second half (Crater) started hitting some threes and we just didn’t match them. They’d hit a three, then we’d come down and miss a shot and they’d hit another one, and before you knew it they started to pull away.”

Crater advanced to the second round of the playoffs, where the Comets were cut down 66-27 by second-ranked Oregon City (19-6). The Pioneers open the Class 6A state tournament this evening against Pacific Conference champion Tigard (21-5). That game will tip off at 8:15 p.m. at the Moda Center.

For Forest Grove, Tuesday’s loss marked the end of the road for six important seniors, but the Vikings will rebuild with five returning underclassmen, including freshman McKenzie Long, an honorable mention all-league selection.

“We had three freshmen and two sophomores on varsity this year, so it will be nice to have them back next year,” Lumpkin said. “The seniors set a good example for them. We’ll be young for a couple years, but they’ll have time to play together and develop together.

“We have a real strong group to build around.”

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