The Vikings fall behind early and suffer a second consecutive league defeat to league rival Grizzlies

STAFF PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove sophomore Audrey Fasching dribbles around a McMinnville defender during their game against the Grizzlies Feb. 7 at Forest Grove High.
It's over.

A week that started with such promise for the Forest Grove girls basketball team, thankfully came to an end with a second consecutive loss, the latest being a 48-20 defeat to league rival McMinnville Feb. 2 at Forest Grove High School — and it wasn't that close.

The Grizzlies took control from the beginning, scoring from the outside, dominating the boards, and using their length and athleticism to smother the Vikings defensively in a game Mac desperately needed to stay in the hunt for a Greater Valley Conference title.

"It was a rough week," said a noticeably frustrated Forest Grove Head Coach Dan Lumpkin.

The loss came on the heels of a one-point loss to McNary Jan. 30, a game in which the Vikings led by nine before going scoreless over the final 5:29 and falling victim to a Celtic last second shot.

"We played two teams that knew they had to come in here and get wins," said Lumpkin. "And both those teams played with desperation and I don't think we responded well."

McMinnville was led by forward Kylee Arzner who scored 15 points before leaving in the fourth quarter due to injury. The 5-foot-10 freshman scored eight in the first quarter and five in the second, headlining a Grizzly squad that shot the lights out in the opening eight minutes.

"They were definitely on," said Forest Grove senior Emily Huson. "Their freshman (Arzner) was making everything tonight."

Arzner opened the game with a three-pointer, but Forest Grove's Kinsey Barnett immediately answered with a trey of her own to tie the game 3-3. But Mac — with help from Kayla Heuberger and Alix Williams — score 12 straight to make it 15-3, and when Arzner scored five more to end the quarter, the Grizzlies led 20-6 and the Viks found themselves digging from a seemingly insurmountable hole.

It didn't get much better in the second. While Mac slowed their roll significantly, Forest Grove continued to struggle, getting just a Katie Rebsom three-pointer until the final seconds when sophomore Audrey Fasching hit a floater from the baseline to pull the Vikings within 26-11 at the half.

"We weren't making shots early and I think we became hesitant because of that," said Huson. "I was also a little hesitant about going inside because of their size."

The Vikings would score but five points over the next quarter-and-a-half, and when McMinnville sophomore Kyra Fisher scored midway through the fourth, the lead was 46-16 and the final buzzer couldn't sound fast enough for the Viks, their coach, and the gym full of faithful hoping to see a Forest Grove victory.

"I think they're length bothered us," said Lumpkin. "They're big, long and athletic, and they cover the perimeter well. We were tentative to get it inside and it made scoring difficult."

The coach stopped short of using Tuesday's loss as an excuse, and said he thought his team was ready to play coming into the night. But pointed more to Mac's execution and complimented the visiting squad in defeat.

"I don't think there was a hangover," said Lumpkin. "I think we had a good practice Wednesday and I think McMinnville is a very good team that's gotten much better since we saw them in December. And when they're able to make shots like they did tonight, combined with an ability to score inside, that makes them a very tough thing to beat."

Now, Forest Grove and McMinnville sit tied atop the GVC standings, with McNary a game back after losing to West Albany 62-56. So after suffering their first conference defeats in back-to-back games, where do the Vikings go from here?

"This week's over and we've got four games ahead of us," said Lumpkin. "We're still tied for first and our goals don't change. We're still hunting a share of the league title, but we know we need to regroup."

And how are his girls taking the loss?

"They're taking it tough," said the coach. "But that means they care, and that's a good thing."

Forest Grove is next scheduled to play at North Salem Feb. 6 and will travel to West Salem Feb. 9 before returning home for their regular season home finale Feb. 16 against West Albany.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the final score in one reference. The finish was 48-20, McMinnville. The story has been updated.

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