Hillsboro boys hang around but ultimately come up short at home against Forest Grove

Facing a league frontrunner to open up Pacific Conference play last Friday, the Hillsboro boys basketball team hung tough for as long as it could.

The Spartans confused the Vikings of Forest Grove with an intense, oft-changing defense. They held the visitors to just 28 percent shooting from field goal range.

But Hilhi could not come up with enough offense of its own and fell 61-43 at Hillsboro High School. Coupled with Tuesday’s 68-40 loss to McMinnville — a second consecutive conference contender — the Spartans sit at 2-10 overall and 0-2 in league play heading into tonight’s contest at HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Hillsboro senior Tyler Fernstrom drives to the basket during last Friday's league game against Forest Grove.

“Our guys played their tails off. There’s no question about that,” Hilhi coach Ryan Svenson said. “I thought defensively we did exactly what we wanted to do.

“Offensively, we just shot ourselves in the foot with ... turnovers and then missed free throws in the first half.”

Hilhi never led in the contest but trailed just 13-7 after one quarter and 26-19 at the intermission.

In the third quarter, the Spartans missed on a couple of 3-point tries that would have trimmed their deficit to just a few points, and Forest Grove (9-3, 2-0) made enough shots to pull away.

The Vikings’ Angler Emerick, who scored a game-high 17 points, led the charge by scoring seven points in the third.

The never-give-up Spartans continued to play hard and hang around, cutting a deficit that had swelled to as many as 20 points to 51-40 when Blake Pearson— who scored a team-high 11 points — converted a three-point play with 2:41 remaining.

“Our defensive intensity was a lot higher than it was at the last game and our rebounding,” Pearson said. “We made sure to make that a focal point.”

But Emerick answered with a three-point play less than a minute later to put the lead back up to 14, and eventually both coaches cleared their benches.

With 10 points, Tyler Fernstrom also reached double figures for Hilhi. Freshman guard Corey Hindley provided a game highlight early in the fourth by swishing a 3-pointer while being fouled and then sinking the free throw for a four-point play.

The Spartans travel to Newberg tonight for a 7:15 p.m. tip-off, and they return home next Tuesday for a conference clash against city rival Glencoe. That game will also start at 7:15, with the girls varsity contest preceding it at 5:45.

Hilhi will also be at home next Friday for a league showdown against Tualatin.

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