Forest Grove falls to Sherwood in playoffs opening round
Fairy tales exist primarily as a pleasant alternative to the harsh realities of life.
The Forest Grove girls basketball team had been living a fairy tale for much of the 2017-18 basketball season. Through hard work, dedication, and for the most part pretty good basketball, the Vikings managed a 14-2 league record, shared the Greater Valley Conference championship, and earned a home playoff game against Sherwood from the Three Rivers League. But unlike in fairy tales, reality doesn't always have a happy ending — and that was the case Tuesday night.
Sherwood defeated the Vikings in the opening round of the state playoffs 22-20 on a night in which the home Viks simply couldn't do what's most important in the game — put the ball in the basket. They failed to score in the first quarter, scored just two points in the first half, and by the time they warmed-up, the clock was winding-down on what had been a truly Cinderella season.
"We just struggled to make shots in that first half," said Forest Grove head coach Dan Lumpkin. "We had a game plan and got the ball where we wanted to, we just couldn't knock down shots. Even though we were getting the ball in the right places, we looked a little frantic, were indecisive and not being aggressive and attacking the basket."
After trailing by as many as 10 in the second half, Forest Grove amped-up the pressure midway through the fourth quarter and parlayed a handful of Bowmen turnovers into a 10-3 run to close the gap to just three, but Sherwood's junior guard Aubrie Emmons hit two crucial free throws and their lone senior, Lauren Scarvie, grabbed two offensive rebounds in the final minute to secure the Bowmen victory and sadly end what had been a magical Viking season.
"Sometimes shots don't fall and it's unfortunate it was tonight, but I'm proud of how we ended and the loss doesn't take away from what we achieved this season," said Forest Grove's Katie Rebsom. "The loss doesn't take away our league title, it doesn't take away hosting a first round game, and I'm proud of the girls."
Sherwood coach Wes Pappas — who used to teach and coach in the Forest Grove district and even coached a few of the Viking seniors — spoke glowingly of his kids' effort and was pleased with their execution, while somewhat surprised by the Vikings' approach in the first half.
"We figured we needed to play a lower scoring game, because they have a little more fire power than we do and a good group of seniors," said Pappas. "I was surprised they held the ball as much as they did. They had the ball the majority of time in the first half, so between us holding the ball, plus them holding it like they did, it really limited their number of shots and that worked in our favor."
Lumpkin was happy with their game plan and for the most part their execution, but thought his team was too hesitant early-on and that it was that hesitancy that led to longer, and ultimately unsuccessful offensive possessions.
"We weren't decisive with the ball," Lumpkin said. "On a number of occasions we got to positions to score, but there was hesitation and by the time we decided to shoot, the shot was no longer there."
After taking a 6-2 lead to the half, Sherwood further demoralized the Viking faithful with five quick points to start the third quarter, and scored six more to take a 17-7 lead to the fourth. But Forest Grove senior Emily Huson hit back-to-back threes to start the final stanza, pulling the Vikings to within four and reenergizing a vibrant Forest Grove crowd.
"We knew they'd make a run at some point," said Pappas. "Dan does a good job with them. They do a good job moving the ball, they have some shooters and they have some inside options, so it's tough to keep them down all game."
The Bowmen's Kaytlin Cooke made it a 19-13 game with 3:00 remaining, but Forest Grove's Amanda Rebsom cut that to 19-15 on the next trip down the floor. Sherwood continued to milk the clock in the halfcourt and stole two possessions from the Vikings with a couple big Scarvie rebounds on missed Bowmen free throw attempts before an Emily Lester basket made it 20-17 with 28 seconds on the clock.
"Games like this come down to one or two possessions, you've got to get rebounds and block people out," Lumpkin said. "Unfortunately we let a couple of those get away late."
Pappas acknowledged the late pressure was an issue for his girls, due primarily to being ill-equipped to handle it.
"I was a little bit surprised they waited as long as they did to pressure," said Pappas. "We don't have a lot of ball handlers, really just one, so I think we were vulnerable in that way."
Lumpkin said you always reflect after a loss and acknowledged that sometimes you wish you'd done things differently. But ultimately he was happy with their approach and said it just came down to execution.
"We man pressed them to begin with, but we didn't want to give up something easy in a tight game," the coach said. "So we waited to put a little pressure on and we were able to get a few turnovers. As a coach you always reflect and think about what we could've done differently, but I think we had a good game plan, we just didn't execute."
Emmons hit two free throws to ice the game and the Vikings' Kinsey Barnett hit a three as time expired. But while ultimately being on the wrong end of a closely fought battle, no one sporting the maroon and gold regretted what at the end of the day was a season to remember.
"As a whole this season has been amazing," Lumpkin said. "This group of girls from the seniors to the freshmen work so hard. They care about each other, they love each other, and their hurting."
"You hate that it ends. I'm going to miss those seniors like crazy. They've been tremendous leaders and role models, and great examples for the underclassmen and youth players. They're part of something that's growing, and those girls are a big part of that, and I'm so proud of them."
Katie Rebsom echoed her coach's sentiment.
"I just had the best experience at this school, with sports, and with Coach Lumpkin," Rebsom said. "I've been playing basketball with a lot of these girls since the fifth grade and I'm sad to see it end, but I'm excited to come back and see how my sister and the other underclassmen we've worked with do in the future. They have a wonderful future ahead of them."
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