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Forest Grove girls regroup after two tough losses

Vikings learn important lessons following a pair of 20-point losses in nonleague play


Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Forest Grove sophomore McKenzie Long passes through traffic during Saturday's nonleague girls basketball game against Century. This current version of the Forest Grove girls basketball team is still short on experience. But what it doesn’t lack is spunk.

The Vikings rang in the new year last week with less-than-ideal results — consecutive 20-point losses to Westview and Century on Friday and Saturday. They did show some encouraging signs, rallying in each game after a slow start.

Those lessons are a couple more the team can call on as it enters the heart of Greater Valley Conference play.

Playing at former league foe Century on Saturday, Forest Grove’s hole was dug almost from the opening whistle, and the end result was a 63-43 loss. The Jaguars (3-7) got out running and attacked the basket from the outset, and the Vikings frequently responded by fouling, putting the home team in the double bonus by the end of the first quarter.

Century went 10-for-14 from the charity stripe during that stretch to jump out to a 25-13 lead after eight minutes of play.

“They were hitting their shots. Normally, they’re not necessarily a strong shooting team, but they were able to knock down their shots,” Forest Grove coach Dan Lumpkin said. “And then of course, the early foul trouble plagued us for most of the first half.”

The Vikings (3-7) trailed by as many as 16 points before starting to rally in the third stanza. Ashlie Collins sparked a 15-5 run that continued into the fourth quarter when she converted a three-point play midway through the third.

Jodi Blondahl fueled the comeback by scoring six of her nine total points during that run, which Emily Peters capped when she scored off a Century turnover to trim the deficit to 49-43 in the fourth.

“Once we kind of got past the foul trouble … I think we just kind of settled in,” Lumpkin noted. “We played more of a half-court defensive game and really forced Century to get their baskets by executing in the half-court and not really giving them opportunities for transition baskets or opportunities to draw fouls.”

That six-point margin drew the visitors as close as they had been since the contest’s opening minutes, but they would get no closer. Led by Braanna Weber, who scored a game-high 24 points, the Jaguars iced the game with a 14-0 run.

Brittany McCormick added 14 points for Century, while McKenzie Long, who did all of her scoring in the first half, led the Vikings with 13 points.

Collins also hit double figures with 11, and Blomdahl scored her nine points all in the second half.

Those two led Forest Grove with eight points apiece in Friday’s 53-33 home loss to Westview. Lumpkin said that his team didn’t suffer from early foul trouble in that contest, but it did come out a bit on the timid side, allowing the visitors to build a 16-point lead at the break.

The Vikings sliced that down to seven points in the second half and hung around for a time before Westview pulled away again to close out the game.

Forest Grove was without the services of Alyssa Villalobos for both contests. In fact, the junior — one of just two varsity holdovers from last season, along with Long — sat out all five of the team’s games over the winter break to rest an injured shoulder.

Lumpkin expected her back in the lineup on Tuesday, when the Vikings traveled to West Albany (results were not available at press deadline). The squad plays its final nonleague game on Friday evening at home against Crescent Valley before resuming GVC play on Jan. 13 with a contest at South Salem.

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