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Forest Grove boys romp past North Salem

Vikings get back on the winning track with a convincing 75-45 league victory


It took a while, but Forest Grove eventually got the job done.

Coming off a 73-40 loss three nights earlier to league-leading South Salem, the Viking boys basketball team watched a game North Salem squad stick around for one half last Friday at Joe Moran Court. But the hosts edged out front in the second quarter and slammed the door in the third to cruise to a 75-45 win.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: KENT FRASURE
 - Forest Grove's Tyler Joramo (23) and Kyle Thompson (11) celebrate on the bench during the Vikings' 75-45 rout of North Salem last Friday.

With the result, Forest Grove improved to 10-4 overall and 4-2 in Greater Valley Conference play. The Vikings exited the game with sole possession of third place in the GVC and already have won two more games than they did all of last winter. North Salem dropped to 1-12 and 0-6.

After a nip-and-tuck first quarter that had the home team back on its heels a bit, Bailey Evers gave Forest Grove the lead for good when he drilled a 3-pointer to make it 22-19 midway through the second period. But North Salem, which was exceptionally efficient in the paint early on and trailed 15-11 after one quarter, continued to hang around for a while longer.

“I think they made their first, at least, four or five shots,” Forest Grove head coach Greg Evers said, referring to North Salem. “If you’re selective and you don’t miss, it’s kind of hard not to have the lead or be at least in it.”

The visitors were within striking distance at 33-23 at halftime and within 39-28 when Isaac Astorga hit a 3-pointer midway through the third.

But then the game turned into the Kyle Thompson show for a short — but definitive — stretch. The sophomore point guard scored the game’s next eight points over a roughly one-minute span to put Forest Grove up 47-28. He kicked off the run with a 3-pointer from the right corner and then converted an acrobatic, twisting layup. He finished with a three-point play to essentially put the contest on ice.

“We had a good run early in the second half to get it to like 15,” said Bailey Evers, who led all scorers with 23 points.

“They couldn’t stall anymore, so they had to shoot quicker on offense, so it gave us more opportunities to score.”

North Salem never threatened from there, even though Greg Evers put in his bench players for much of the fourth quarter. The hosts wound up with a considerable advantage at the free throw line, going 28-for-33 compared with North Salem’s 14–for-25. Almost half of the visitors’ attempts came in the final quarter, too, when the game was no longer in doubt.

Though they got off to somewhat slow starts, Bailey Evers and Taylor Jensen eventually did their usual damage. Neither scored for the first time until late in the opening quarter, but Evers finished with a game-high 23 points. Jensen recorded a sterling all-around effort, scoring 13 points, but he also did many of the little things — such as getting in passing lanes for steals and dishing out assists — that wore down North Salem.

Alex Funk and Thompson added 10 points each and Ken Balsiger chipped in seven.

Last year at this time, Forest Grove was mired in a stretch during which they lost 14 of 15, including nine in a row at one point. Fast forward to a year later and the Vikings exited Friday night’s round of games ranked No. 13 in Class 6A, having gone 5-2 in their last seven outings.

“It’s great to get better every year,” Funk said. “This is going to be a great win to help us push ourselves forward to get the next few going.”

As for the elder Evers, he has dreams of his team climbing back into the GVC title race, as well as hosting a home playoff game in the first round. He was unsure the last time that happened, but it may be as far back as 1984, when Forest Grove lost to Jefferson in the opening round.

But Evers also isn’t looking too far ahead.

“You can see, even the bottom teams in the state — not to mention our league — see what they can do to you on a given night,” Evers said. “A varsity team is a varsity team and you gotta be prepared to play. On any given night, anybody can knock off anybody, especially on the road.”

This week, Forest Grove wraps up the first half of conference play with a home contest against McKay (4-10, 1-5) on Friday.