Forest Grove makes quick work of Century boys, 65-33
All nights are not created equal — at least not in regards to high school basketball.
It was Senior Night at Forest Grove High School Tuesday, Feb. 19, and the Vikings made the most of it, defeating the Century Jaguars 65-33. Forest Grove blew-open a close first quarter game in the second, then cruised to victory thanks in a large part to the sharp-shooting of senior wing Adison Emerick who made five 3-pointers en route to 17 first half points.
"It was good," said a smiling Emerick. "I probably should've had that same level of confidence all year, but it was Senior Night and you have to play your best.
"Having all my family here, my brother who's been such a great inspiration, it was a spectacular night for me."
The lopsided outcome allowed Vikings head coach Greg Evers the opportunity to play his seniors for an extended period of time in the second half, but the coach was quick to point out that the bulk of his players have the talent to play more regularly, but matchups and a limited number of minutes often deprive them of such.
"Our depth is really good and I've been trying to sprinkle all our guys in throughout the year," said Evers. "All our guys have the ability to play, but often it's a matter of matchups, so we've been doing that all year long, but it was nice to get them extended action tonight."
The Vikings jumped-out to an early 8-3 lead thanks to two quick Emerick threes, but unfazed, the visiting Jaguars responded thanks in large part to the play of sophomore guard Eddy Essien and junior forward Chance Sparks, who forged Century to a 16-16 tie at the end of the first quarter — much to the chagrin of Evers.
"We have #30 (Essien) being the best shooter in our conference and #11 (Sparks) is good on the boards, and those were two of our keys and we weren't addressing those well, so we were lucky to be tied after one," the coach said. "But we started playing defense in the second quarter and took off."
That they did.
Emerick scored five of the Vikings' first seven points of the second, then watched as his teammates spread the wealth. Guy Littlefield chipped-in a couple baskets, senior Ayden Purcell scored twice, and fellow senior Dominic Funk got a put-back and a handful of rebounds as Forest Grove built a 39-21 halftime lead.
It was more of the same in the second half, as the lead reached 32 points as the Jags continued to struggle from the field, while the Vikings got inspired efforts from the tail end of their bench as the game progressed. Tycen Ferguson and Ty Dineen got in on the act, James Irvine contributed, and seniors J.J. Buehler and Eddie Sanchez combined for 10 points and four rebounds as the game wound to a close. But while happy for his seniors and seldom used reserves, it was the reappearance of the Forest Grove defense that Evers interest in the wake of his team's blowout win.
"The last few games we've felt like we've digressed a bit," he said. "It seemed like we'd felt we'd arrived, but that's not how it works. It takes hard work, mental toughness and focus to do what we're trying to do on both sides of the ball. We do our heavy lifting on the defensive end, and we'd lost our focus of late, but we seemed to have that tonight, and that's encouraging."
With the win, Forest Grove improved to 8-3 in Pacific Conference play and remained in a tie for second with Newberg with one league game remaining. The playoffs are not a matter of "if" for the Vikings, but rather when and against who. But regardless of who they play in next week's first round, Emerick is anxious to represent his school in the postseason.
"We're excited," said the forward. "Forest Grove hasn't been in a position like this for a while, so we're fired up for the opportunity."
Emerick led all scorers with 17 points, while Littlefield added 12 points, and Funk and Purcell combined for 14 points and 16 rebounds.
Century, who finished their season with the loss to the Viks, was led by junior Jospin Mugisha who tallied 12 points, while Essien scored 11, and Sparks added seven points and five rebounds.
Forest Grove will finish the regular season at Liberty this Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7:15 p.m.
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