Forest Grove girls muscle past visiting Hillsboro to keep their spot at the top of the Pacific Conference standings

The Forest Grove girls basketball team wasn’t about to get surprised in its Pacific Conference opener last Friday.

Heading into their home matchup against Hillsboro, the Lady Vikings felt like they had seen just about everything there was to see and faced just about everything they could possibly face.

“We played a mix of teams (in the pre-season),” Forest Grove head coach Dan Lumpkin said. “We played teams that were big, we played some that pressed a lot, we played some that didn’t press at all. We had a good mixture of teams ... that gave us a look at anything we could possibly expect during conference.”

The Lady Vikings’ goal was to come out aggressive and take the game to the Spartans quickly.

“One of our main goals was to come out with a lot of energy and a lot of hustle and just try to outwork them from the beginning,” Lumpkin said.

In the first quarter, though, the Lady Vikings could not buy a basket.

“We shot very poorly in the first quarter,” Lumpkin said. “We were 2-for-15 in the first quarter. They came out in the zone (defense) which forced us to take more perimeter shots and we just weren’t hitting them.”

Things started going better for Forest Grove after the first period. The Vikings started the second quarter with a 17-3 run that gave them a 30-16 lead at halftime. That was enough cushion for Forest Grove to cruise to a 44-30 victory.

“Once we started getting the ball inside we got a few buckets, we started getting steals and playing in transition, and we opened up the lead,” Lumpkin said.

Forest Grove was led by Kaitlyn Jamieson, who scored a team-high 10 points, all in the first half.

“We were really able to take advantage of our size in the first half and get the ball inside to our post players,” Lumpkin said.

In some ways, it was simply Jamieson’s turn to lead the Lady Vikings. Lumpkin said that his team has the ability to have different players set the tone for the team’s offense each night.

“The great thing about this group is that we’ve had different leading scorers in almost every single game,” Lumpkin said. “We have a group that, on any given night, someone can take over the scoring load. We don’t really rely on one or two girls to score all of our points.

“This is the ultimate team sport — everyone takes their part, everyone understands their role and different players have big nights on different nights. That’s the one thing I like about this group. We have the kind of depth and talent to not have to rely on multiple people to carry us.”

In holding Hillsboro to 30 points, the Vikings showcased a defense that has kept four opponents to 30 points or less already this season.

“We have a good group of athletes, so we’re pretty quick,” Lumpkin said. “We also have some good size. We use our length and athleticism to our advantage. We press them in the full court and then in the half court we don’t really allow them to get any good looks at the hoop — no layup opportunities. We really try to make it tough for them in the half court.”

The strong defense and multiple scoring threats have helped Forest Grove to a 9-2 record this season, the best in the Pacific Conference.

Lumpkin always knew that the Vikings were a talented group, but he is a bit surprised that the team has come together so quickly.

“I don’t know if I knew that we would be playing at this level. I knew that this was a good group and I knew this group was capable of playing at this level,” Lumpkin said. “It’s good to see them coming out and actually doing it. That doesn’t really surprise me.

“It was ... one of those situations, when the season started, where I thought that we could be really good and let’s go and take it one game at a time. They’ve done that. They’ve never lost focus. Every day that they come into the gym they get better and we try to take it one game at a time.”

Lumpkin believes that the Lady Vikings can continue to improve.

“We look at each game independently,” he said. “If we come off a win we look at what we did well and praise the girls for what they did well and then look at the areas that we need to improve upon and we spend time looking at the areas that we need to improve upon.”

If that happens, Lumpkin believes that the Vikings could be a force to be reckoned with in the Pacific Conference.

“We have a team that’s going to be competing in the top half of our league,” Lumpkin said. “We have the depth, we have the talent to compete with the top teams in our league.”

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