by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Nolan Bertain of the Lincoln Cardinals looks to pass on a drive against Forest Grove.A young Lincoln Cardinals boys basketball began its season with a fast start and a comfortable win on Friday, but third-year coach Sean Christensen knows that future victories might not come so easily this season.

The Cards shot to leads of 20-7 after one quarter and 43-19 at the half en route to a 69-57 triumph over Forest Grove at Lincoln.

"They were pressing us, and we handled it pretty well and got some points in transition," Christensen says. "When you get easy buckets and make stops, you can have a 20-point quarter."

The second half wasn't as good.

"We turned it over it seemed like every time we touched it," Christensen said.

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Lincoln's Bailey Hazard gets the easy layup against Forest Grove.Two freshmen who have been club basketball teammates — 6-3 wing Nolan Bertain and 6-1 guard Jonah Pemberton — had successful high school debuts, with Bertain making 5 of 7 shots from 3-point range and scoring 24 points. Pemberton chipped in with seven points.

"We've known Nolan for a long time, and Jonah showed up," Christensen says. "Both played this summer with us, and we saw they could play, so we just gave them the opportunity, and they've taken it.

"Nolan shot extremely well (in the first game), but I don't think Forest Grove had a scouting report on him. So I don't think he'll be as open moving forward. He'll have to figure out other ways to get his shot.

"He's going to be a guard when it's all said and done. He can handle the ball, shoots well, sees the floor well, is pretty athletic and is long and good defensively.

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Lincoln's Jonah Pemberton drives on the Forest Grove defense."Jonah is just a big, strong kid, more of a point guard type who will handle the ball a lot for us. He's 180 pounds, just really solid. He's strong enough to be physical with older guys, and he's played club basketball for a while, so he's really ready."

The frosh are surrounded by a mix of players from the other classes, but not a lot of experience.

Point guard Matt Peeler, a senior, played the most of three returnees.

"He's our leader," Christensen says.

Peeler's father, Jeff, who has been Lincoln's athletic director, stepped down from his role as the Cardinals' head girls basketball coach, largely so he can assist Christensen on the boys bench and get to see his son play all the time this TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Lincoln's Matt Peeler gets contact on the shot against Forest Grove.

The Lincoln boys had a good run under former coach David Adelman, with Christensen an assistant, then took fourth in the 6A tournament in 2012 under Christensen, going 18-12.

Last season, the Cardinals slipped a bit to 14-12, but rallied from a 2-5 start and made it to the round of 16 in the state playoffs.

This year's team doesn't have a lot of height, with 6-4 Tim Graham the biggest threat, but even he is more of a perimeter shooter.

"Everybody's about the same, which makes for some interesting combinations," Christensen says. "And we've got talent."

The Cardinals also will have their first six games in the friendly confines of the Lincoln gym, although the competition is good.

On Tuesday, Lincoln plays host to Westview, and on Friday 6A league foe South Eugene will pay a visit to the downtown gym.

"Both those games will be really tough. Both of them are so well-coached," Christensen says.

South Eugene has the 6-6 junior Eli Lininger, who has committed to Yale, and several other returning players, including Sean O'Neil, a 6-6 wing with 3-point range.

"And they just got a 6-8 freshman wing," Christensen says, adding, "they are going to be a team to watch."

As for Lincoln .. "we're a work in progress," Christensen says. "We have to shoot 3s; we don't have true posts. And we try to get layups on back cuts and things, make jump hooks and stuff like that.

"We'll have to be good defensively. We gave up the 57 points to Forest Grove, and we're not going to have a lot of success if we keep doing that."by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Lincoln's Tearale Dempsey makes a baseline pass against Forest Grove.

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