The Vikings defeat West Albany 47-39 and are a win away from a least a share of the GVC title.

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Forest Grove's Kinsey Barnett (30) goes for a shot under the defense of West Albany's Hannah Kerlegan (30) during an OSAA girls basketball game at Forest Grove High School in Forest Grove, Ore., on Feb. 16, 2018.The term "must-win game" is often thrown around lightly. But as the regular season winds to a close, every game is a must-win game for the Forest Grove girls basketball team if they want to win a league title — and they won a big one Friday night.

The Vikings defeated West Albany 47-39 Feb. 16 at Forest Grove High, and in the process moved a game closer to clinching at least a share of the Greater Valley Conference title.

"That was huge for us," said Forest Grove senior guard Katie Rebsom. "We needed that win."

A close game for most of the night, the Vikings pulled away in the fourth quarter thanks to timely shooting from Rebsom and fellow senior Kinsey Barnett, who combined for 10 of Forest Grove's 16 fourth quarter points, including three three-pointers.

"We were ready to go in that fourth quarter," said Rebsom. "We put the starting group back in and we were all fired up. All fatigue just goes out the door and this was all that mattered."

Rebsom finished with nine points and seven rebounds, but the Vikings used a balanced attack throughout, getting a combined 22 points and 12 rebounds from Barnett and senior guard Emily Huson. But while the fourth quarter was the difference in a game that meant a lot to the Viks and their league title hopes, Forest Grove head coach Dan Lumpkin said it was "business as usual" for his team to start the final stanza.

"We went into the fourth quarter with a five point lead and we talked about continuing to execute, play good defense and play our game," said the coach. "I don't like to put more pressure on the girls and potentially make them tight and panic. We just want to do what we always do."

Both teams struggled at the onset, struggling to find their shot, and even more so to find a rhythm within the flow of the game. The Vikings took an early 4-0 lead on baskets from Rebsom and Huson, but the Bulldogs evened the score, then took a 6-4 lead before Forest Grove's Amanda Rebsom knotted it up with a 10-foot floater from the left side. The two teams traded buckets from there, before the second quarter buzzer mercifully sent the teams to the locker room tied 15-15.

"West Albany's a very physical team and you saw that early on," said Lumpkin. "The score was low early because we're just as physical and just as aggressive and so both teams struggled to get any rhythm offensively. We knew it would come down to the team that was going to execute better and make plays down the stretch."

Katie Rebsom agreed with her coach regarding their first-half frustration, but also noted the importance of execution and an aggressive approach as a key to victory.

"Shots weren't falling and we had a bunch of defensive breakdowns," she said. "They always come out aggressive and we're not always the strongest, but we stepped it up in the second half and went right back at them."

And ultimately it paid off.

It was neck-and-neck for much of the third, with neither team building more than a two point lead before Amanda Rebsom notched a couple free throws and Barnett buried a three in the final minute, giving the Viks a 31-26 lead to start the fourth.

The Bulldogs scored five straight to tie the game 31-31 almost immediately to start the fourth, but Barnett hit the first of her two fourth quarter threes a possession later, and from there it was all Vikings as they scored twelve straight to for all intents and purposes end the game.

"Once we were able to get a couple to drop we were able to find a rhythm," said Lumpkin. "If you make one or two, usually more follow, and we were able to build a double digit lead."

Now with but one game remaining — a road game against a Sprague team second-to-last in the GVC — the Vikings will have to fight the temptation of looking beyond the hapless Olympians, get a win and wait for the result of McMinnville's game with third place McNary to see how things shakeout.

"We've got to take care of business," Lumpkin said. "It's their senior night and they start five seniors, so they're going to put up a fight."

Katie Rebsom reiterated her coach's plan of attack.

"We don't take anyone lightly. We'll game plan like we would for anyone else and we'll practice hard on Monday. When Sprague shows up they can be tough, so we have to make it the game of our lives.

And what would a league title mean to the senior?

"It would be amazing," Rebsom said. "I'd love to do it for myself and my fellow seniors, and it would be cool to do it with my sister."

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