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The Vikings are off to a 3-1 start with wins over Roseburg, North Medford and North Salem.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove senior Ally Hammond during a game against North Salem Tuesday, Dec. 7, at Forest Grove High School. Buchanan is one of four returning starters for the Vikings.
The Forest Grove girls basketball team dropped a game at Westview Dec. 8, but over it's first three contests it posted victories over North Medford, Roseburg and North Salem by a combined score of 170-70. Head coach Dan Lumpkin said that – while early – he's been pleased with the team's performance thus far and due to such remains optimistic about their prospects going forward.

"I would say the team has performed well over the first three games," Lumpkin said. "Our defense has been solid…we're shooting the ball better than we did a year ago, and we have several girls who have the ability to spread the floor and hit shots from the outside."

In each of the Vikes' lopsided wins they've pounced on the competition early, but because of such they've been forced to call off the proverbial dogs late in games, which Lumpkin believes has to an extent stunted their growth and led to uncharacteristic fourth quarter mistakes.

"Obviously, when you get up big early and have to pull back some of the pressure, that can be hard for the girls to adjust to and it sometimes gets a little sloppy," the coach said. "But I have liked the way we've started games and the girls are playing with confidence."

The team returns four starters from last year's squad that finished 9-9 overall and won two of its three "culminating week" games. Of those returning starters, Lumpkin expects big things from senior Ally Hammond who he said brings a lot of experience and athleticism; senior Lily Everson who he said is one of the top defenders in the league; junior guard Summer Hullinger who is a "good three-point shooter and attacks the basket with no fear;" and sophomore Lauren Buchanan who is a dynamic ball-handler, can attack the basket, and shoots well from the perimeter.

Buchanan led the team with 17 points against North Salem, while Hammond chipped-in 13.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove sophomore Lauren Buchanan during a game against North Salem Tuesday, Dec. 7, at Forest Grove High School. Buchanan is one of four returning starters for the Vikings.In addition to the aforementioned, Lumpkin added that he was expecting solid contributions from newcomers Katelyn Petersen and Myle Vernon, the latter of which he said should make a leap this season after getting a taste of varsity action this past spring.

"She played last year, but I expect her to play a more instrumental role with the team," he said. "She plays a little bit of every position and is a very smart player."

The coach said they'll again focus on the defensive end to help set the tone, but will also aim to up the tempo to play to this group's strengths. He also believes that their strengths lie with their three-point shooting, guard play and overall mix of veteran and youthful talent, while their weakness may be a lack of size.

"One thing we will have to improve upon is defending bigger players and being able to rebound the ball against bigger teams."

He also said prior to the season that he had concerns over his team's propensity for foul trouble, along with the potential for poor decision-making early, but said that – at least in the early going – he's already seen improvement on that front through four games.

"The defense has cleaned things up since the first game," Lumpkin said. "I would also say that our decision-making, seeing the floor and taking care of the basketball has gotten better."

In the end, the coach is excited for the season to come and is looking forward to the growth of a team with a goal of the postseason – per usual.

"I would like to see us continue to improve as the season goes on," Lumpkin said. "I think we should compete well in our league, and hopefully earn another berth in the playoffs."

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