Forest Grove girls stay undefeated, prep for big week
Next game. That's how the Forest Grove Viking girls have and will continue to approach their schedule this season.
Following their wins last week, a 47-37 victory over South Salem followed by a 57-27 road win at McKay, the Viks have won 10 straight, remain undefeated in Greater Valley Conference play and are a sweep away from virtually clinching the league title. But despite this week's slate versus second place teams McNary and McMinnville, this iteration of Forest Grove girls basketball is determined to focus on what is — as opposed to what could be — in an effort to reach their goals.
"We don't talk about what could be, we approach every game the same," said Forest Grove head coach Dan Lumpkin.
That's to be expected coming from a coach, but Lumpkin believes his girls take the notion seriously. They do so primarily due to their commitment, he thinks, but also partially as a result of his steadfastness.
"They understand, and I think they buy in because I talk about it a lot," said the coach. "I tell them, 'You guys have put a lot of work in to get to this point, and we can't afford to overlook any game or take a game for granted and let that work go to waste.'"
That approach continued to pay dividends with last week's two game sweep.
The Vikings' recent win over South Salem was their second of the season; however, the first came against a Saxon team playing without standout freshman point guard Hilary James. Forest Grove wouldn't be so lucky this time, but despite James' presence, the Vikings would never trail beyond 2-0 and won relatively comfortably against the bigger South Salem roster.
"They've been playing well and they have the type of size that can give us trouble," said Lumpkin. "But the girls did a great job of boxing-out and rebounding, and held them to just two second chance points."
Offensively, the Viks won with their usual balanced attack but were led by Katie Rebsom's 15 points, 13 of which came in the second half.
"Katie did a great job of getting baskets when we needed them," Lumpkin said. "She was able to get in the lane and make that little floater she has, and it kept us comfortably in front."
Olivia Grosse pitched in with 10 points, most of which came in the first half and in the midst of building a lead, and Emily Huson, Kinsey Barnett and Emily Lester all knocked down three-pointers in the winning effort against the Saxons.
Against McKay, which has yet to win a game this season, the Vikings' approach was mostly about building a lead, getting some time for the reserves and avoiding the type of lackluster performance that can submarine an upcoming contest versus a formidable opponent.
We didn't want to struggle and have the type of negative performance that could bleed into next week's games," said Lumpkin. " I think we were successful. We didn't keep our starters in for that long and got a lot of girls a lot of minutes."
Now the Viks prepare for McNary and McMinnville, with a chance to all but end the conference season with a pair of wins.
McNary is a small team that will try and up the tempo. It will be Forest Grove's job to dictate the tempo and take advantage of their comparable size — like they did in their first meeting.
"We handled them pretty well in our first meeting," said Lumpkin. "So I'm sure they're going to come at us pretty hard this time."
Forest Grove beat them in just their third game of this season, at their place and at the buzzer on an Emily Huson three-pointer as time expired. Lumpkin expects the Grizzlies bring a big effort Friday night and understands that they're playing for their title lives against his Viks.
"They not only need this game, but they need some help after this too," said the coach. "They'll be fired up."
Regardless, that game's not until Friday, so it's not on Lumpkin or his team's radar until the McNary game is in the rearview mirror.
"One game at a time," the coach said. "That's our approach."
Tuesday's game with McNary was after the News-Times' press deadline. The Viks' Feb. 2 game with McMinnville is a 5:45 p.m. tip at FGHS.
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