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Boys basketball: Forest Grove boys stage furious late rally to upset McNary

Taylor Jensen scores 24 points to lead Vikings to 59-51 victory

FOREST GROVE NEWS-TIMES PHOTOS: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove's Kyle Thompson  makes a shot on basket with two minutes left in the game to give the Vikings a lead of 52-51 during Forest Grove's 59-51 win over McNary Friday

For the longest time Friday night, it didn’t look good for the Forest Grove boys basketball team. It didn’t look good at all.

And then suddenly, it was golden.

The Vikings didn’t score a single field goal in the first quarter against McNary and trailed the visiting Celtics most of the way, but they caught fire in the fourth to capture an important 59-51 victory. After suffering a last-second 71-69 loss at McMinnville on Tuesday, Forest Grove rebounded with a win against the second-place team in the Greater Valley Conference.

“We just played hard the entire game,” senior leader Taylor Jensen said. “Our competitiveness was the same the whole time, our work ethic.”

The setback snapped a five-game win streak for McNary, which dropped to 15-3 overall and 8-2 in the GVC. The Vikings, meanwhile, picked up a signature win on their popular “jam the gym” night to improve to 12-6 overall and 6-4 in league play, which put them in fourth place, a half-game behind Sprague with six league contests remaining.

At the same-themed event a year ago, fans watched Forest Grove finally put to bed a 10-game losing skid, but they were treated to perhaps an even better contest this time around – and certainly a more significant one, as McNary is ranked 12th in Class 6A and the much-improved Vikings are fighting tooth-and-nail for a playoff bid.

Fans had to wait for the brilliance, but they got it in the end. Though the start was indisputably rough, the end was fantastic for the home team. Despite their early shooting woes, the Vikings trailed just 26-18 at the half, and they exited the third period down 46-35.

Despite that, according to Jensen, the team kept the faith.

“We were confident in the huddles. We were good,” he said. “That first stretch was tough. We didn’t score a field goal in the first quarter. We just had four points on free throws and we picked it up from then.”

Forest Grove exploded for 24 points in the final stanza while holding McNary to just five. Ronnie Thompson helped the cause with two big 3-pointers in the final eight minutes, and younger brother Kyle Thompson gave the Vikings the lead for good when he scored on a layup with about two minutes remaining for a 52-51 lead.

“We stuck with it,” Jensen noted. “We did our stuff and then our stuff finally started clicking.”

Afterward, while the team and fans celebrated the win outside with a ringing of the school’s victory bell, when head coach Greg Evers introduced Jensen, he called him “our heart and soul.” The senior standout came up big with a game-high 24 points and contributed his typical array of steals and savvy.

Harry Cavell paced McNary with 18 points.

Next up, Forest Grove hosts West Albany (5-12, 2-7) on Tuesday, while McNary has a big showdown at league-leading South Salem (16-2, 10-0). Tipoff for both games is at 6:45 p.m.