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The Vikings get wins over McNary and West Albany to stay undefeated and atop the Greater Valley Conference.

COURTESY PHOTO: VICKI VAN LOO PHOTOGRAPHY - Forest Grove's Emily Huson dribbles by a West Albany defender during their Jan. 5 game at West Albany High School.
It's early, but the Forest Grove girls basketball team is making a statement — through hard work and results on the court, which have them undefeated and atop the Greater Valley Conference standings.

The Vikings followed up last week's three Les Schwab Holiday Oregon Hoopfest wins with GVC victories over McNary and West Albany, beating the two by a combined score of 115-73 and doing so by a 21-point average margin of victory.

"I really think we're getting better defensively," said Forest Grove head coach Dan Lumpkin. "We've held all five of our league opponents under 40 points. We have kids who can guard in the full court, have some speed and don't give anything up easy."

In their 52-36 Jan. 2 win over McNary, the Vikings beat the second-place Celtics with that defense, holding their standout guard Kailey Doutt to just 4-13 shooting from the field and her backcourt counterparts to a combined 6-27.

"Our guards, Katie (Rebsom), Emily (Huson) and Kinsey (Barnett) did a great job," said the coach.

In addition, Lumpkin got a balanced offensive attack from those same guards, getting 12 points from Huson, six points from Barnett and nine points and 11 assists from Rebsom. Huson got all 12 of her points in the first half from beyond the arc, and the Viks got 10 second-half points from sophomore post Olivia Grosse.

After a somewhat sloppy first-half effort versus West Albany Friday, Jan. 5, Forest Grove outscored the Bulldogs by 17 in the second half for a 63-37 road win. The Vikings again leaned on a strong performance from Huson, who scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds — and got 25 additional combined points from Barnett, Grosse, and Rebsom. But while he's pleased with the offensive production, it's his team's effort on the boards that had Lumpkin glowing after another perfect week.

COURTESY PHOTO: VICKI VAN LOO PHOTOGRAPHY - Forest Grove freshman Amanda Rebsom goes up for a shot during the Vikings' Jan. 5 game against West Albany at West Albany High."Our rebounding has been terrific," he said. "To start the season I wondered if we could hang with teams on the boards, but we've done a great job and outrebounded the majority of our league opposition."

Against McNary, Barnett, Huson and Rebsom combined for 16 boards, and versus West Albany, junior substitute wing Emily Lester tallied nine rebounds off the bench.

"It's just being more aggressive," said Lumpkin. "Last year rebounding really hurt us because we gave teams a lot of second chances, but this season we're getting contributions from everyone."

The coach said that in the past, the teams that have given his girls the most trouble were bigger and more aggressive. But as part of Lumpkin's plan of playing in last month's PIL tourney against some of the Northwest's elite competition, he feels his team got a taste of what it means to be the more aggressive squad, and the proof has been in the pudding.

"In the games since the tournament we've come out and set the tone," Lumpkin said. "I've seen the difference. We're competing in every game, with fire and intensity."

With last Friday's win over West, Lumpkin — who's in his ninth season as head coach of the Vikings — became the winningest girls coach in Forest Grove history. But despite the 37-year-old's long-tenured success, he's only getting started.

"We've had some success, I've had some great kids and it's a great area to be in," Lumpkin said. "I'm happy."

Forest Grove is scheduled to host North Salem Jan. 9 and Sprague Friday, Jan. 12.


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