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McNary outlasts Vikings

Forest Grove gets off to a hot start but can't hold off visiting McNary in a 47-38 setback

Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove sophomore Ashlie Collins gets off a shot during last Friday's Greater Valley Conference basketball game against McNary. The experience isn’t there quite yet, but the talent appears to be.

Hosting an athletic — and considerably taller — McNary squad on Friday night, the Forest Grove girls basketball team came out firing and jumped out to a promising 8-0 lead. But the Celtics used their length to hit the boards and their athleticism to attack the basket, to considerable effect, in a 47-38 victory.

After trailing by as many as 12 points in the second half, Forest Grove cut its deficit to five on a McKenzie Long 3-pointer with less than a minute to play, but McNary closed the game on a 4-0 run to get the win at Joe Moran Court.

McNary, which played a tough early season schedule and is starting to climb in the OSAA power rankings, improved to 2-4 overall and 2-1 in the Greater Valley Conference. Forest Grove, which defeated McMinnville 40-30 earlier in the week, dropped to 2-3 and 1-2.

“I feel good about the way we competed tonight,” Vikings coach Dan Lumpkin said. “They have the talent to be one of the top teams in our league. They’re big. They start three girls that are 6-foot and taller. We don’t have a single 6-footer on the roster.

“We come to battle every single night, and so far, through five games that’s been one thing that’s been consistent.”

Lumpkin noted that the team is slowly starting to find its offensive form, and the Vikings showed their potential on that end in stretches on Friday. Long, already a team captain as a sophomore, was ready to go from the opening tip, knocking down two 3-pointers to start the scoring.

And in the second half, when Forest Grove was trying to cut into McNary’s lead, the Vikings were effective in using movement both on and off the ball paired with some pretty passes to get good looks at the basket.

“Every now and then, we’ll come down and we’ll be patient, we’ll run great options, we’ll have a nice easy shot,” Lumpkin said. “It’s there. It’s just gotta get a little bit more repetition, a little more practice.”

It makes sense that these Vikings are going through some early-season growing pains. After all, Long and Alyssa Villalobos are the only holdovers who saw any significant varsity minutes last season. As Lumpkin pointed out, many in his group this season were playing on the JV and freshman teams last year — and others were eighth-graders.

After Forest Grove’s hot start, McNary surged in the second quarter, getting five points from Sydney Hunter in the first two-plus minutes of the stanza en route to a 22-15 halftime lead.

That lead swelled to a dozen points heading into the fourth quarter, but the Vikings rallied with an 11-6 run that included a 3-pointer from Emily Peters and five points from Long, who finished with a game-high 16. Her 3-pointer with 54 seconds to go trimmed the home team’s deficit to 43-38 before Jasmine Ernest and Madi Hingston hit two free throws apiece to close out the scoring.

“We just have to work more on the rebounds and the offensive end,” said Long, the Vikings’ outstanding point guard. “Our defense was actually really well. We didn’t let them score in their normal offense and forced them to go into a different offense, so I’m really proud of us on the defensive end. We just have to execute more on the offense.”

Sarah Hess added five points, all in the second half, while Villalobos and McKenzie Calvert chipped in four apiece. Hunter led the Celtics with 15 points, while Earnest and Kaelie Flores scored eight each.

The Vikings are now off until this weekend, when they head to Bend for the Les Schwab Holiday Tournament. Their first game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday against Lincoln (2-3). Next week, the team will host Westview (3-4) at 6:45 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 2.

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