Hot-shooting Skyhawks soar to a 77-65 victory against Forest Grove

Sometimes it’s just one of those nights — one of those nights where seemingly everything goes right for the other team, and there is not much you can do about it.

Last Wednesday was one of those nights for the Forest Grove boys basketball team, which took on Southridge in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs. The 13th-ranked Skyhawks used some hot 3-point shooting to jump out to an early lead on the 20th-ranked Vikings and they held on for a 77-65 victory.

Forest Grove ended its season at 15-10 overall. With those 15 wins, the Vikings matched the 1941, 1943 and 2003 teams for the third-highest win total in school history. Forest Grove’s 1963 (18-5) and 1969 (16-9) squads remain the standard bearers.

Southridge dropped a 69-55 decision at No. 4 South Medford last Friday to wind up at 14-12.

As for last week’s game, Forest Grove coach Greg Evers described the home team’s early hot shooting from distance as a “hurricane.”

“They hit a bunch of 3-pointers early, jumped out to a 23-6 lead,” Evers said.

Meanwhile, Forest Grove went an anemic 1-for-13 on its first 14 field goal attempts, allowing Southridge to build an advantage that wound up being insurmountable.

That was not due to lack of trying, though, on Forest Grove’s part. Evers’ group played well the rest of the way, closing out the quarter on a 5-0 run to trail 23-11, and matching the Skyhawks with 54 points over the final 24 minutes.

For Southridge, though, the long bomb ultimately proved the most damaging. The Skyhawks shot an impressive 12-of-26 (46.2 percent) from 3-point range, and all of those makes, Evers recalled, came in the first three quarters. So seemingly every time the Vikings tried to make a run — and they did, getting within eight points in the second half — the home team had an answer.

“Every time we seemed to make a little bit of a run, they would hit a big three or make a couple baskets in a row,” Evers said. “We could never get really over the hump and get down into where it was a possession or two away, so they kept us at arm’s length the whole game.”

And those big shots did not necessarily come from Southridge’s likely suspects.

“The kids that were making them was the biggest issue, because it wasn’t the kids that we were really trying to stop,” Evers noted. “The two main players we did a decent job on, so the three kids that accounted for 11 of their 12 threes averaged five to seven points (per game) on the season.”

The Skyhawks’ Isaiah Reel led all scorers with 21 points. Taylor Jensen capped his outstanding sophomore season by scoring a team-high 20 points for the Vikings. He added seven rebounds, three assists and a steal.

Three other Forest Grove players also reached double figures. Jon Cirlincione had 14 points, Angler Emerick chipped in 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks, and Michael Garcia scored 15 points.

Garcia’s total was particularly impressive, given that he had missed almost every minute of every contest since spraining the MCL in his right knee during a game against Tigard in late January. The senior all-star guard, who also made a cursory appearance on Senior Night on Feb. 25, went 5-for-11 from the field in his final game in a Vikings uniform.

Along with Garcia, the loss brought to a close the high school playing careers of Cirlincione, Zac Collins, Jalen Hall, Ammon Knaupp and Dashay Khan. This year’s senior group was Evers’ first freshman class when he took over the program starting with the 2010-11 season.

“When they finally got them together as juniors and seniors ... they went to back-to-back state playoffs,” Evers said of his team’s last two seasons. “So that’s probably what I’ll remember.”

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