What's the best way to recover from a tough loss? A win, of course.
After losing a late 4-point lead in a 1-point loss to Liberty last Friday night, Century got back on the winning side of things with a 63-49 conference win over Forest Grove Tuesday night, Jan. 28, at Forest Grove High School.
"We've been struggling offensively," Century head coach Scott Kellar said. "But tonight we started making our shots, got to the basket a little bit, and played with a little more confidence."
The Jaguars led by just two after one quarter, but with every quarter after seemed to add to their lead, taking an eight point lead to the half, 12 to the fourth quarter, then building as big as a 15 point edge in the final stanza.
"It was kind of a slow bleed," Forest Grove head coach Greg Evers said. "We did alright early, but we quit communicating and started bickering on both ends, and as soon as they started making shots, it was tough."
Century was led by guard Kyle Hamnes, who used a combination of both an inside and outside game en route to a game best 18 points. Afterwards the sophomore said he was pleased with how he'd played, but spoke more to how the team did in the wake of a stretch that has seen them struggle on the offensive end.
"Yeah, we've been struggling," Hamnes said. "But this was like a breakthrough game for us. We came in with a lot of confidence and got it done."
In addition to shooting, Kellar talked about patience being a key to his team's offensive success, but also spoke a lot about their defensive effort on this night, especially against a Forest Grove team that he said brings unique challenges to the table.
"Littlefield is tough, 12 (Braden Hudgins) and 42 (James Irvine) are big scorers, so we tried not to let them go crazy," the coach said. "I thought we did a nice job of at least making things tough on those guys when they did get shots."
Evers agreed, but also spoke to his own team's shortcomings as obstacles that got in the way of their success on this night.
"They did a nice job switching, which caused us some trouble," Evers said. "We didn't do a good job of countering that and we started forcing a bit.
"Some of that's on me. We didn't work on their switching that much in practice because it didn't seem to give other teams much of an issue. But it caused us issues."
The game was tight in the first quarter, with Century taking a 17-15 lead with a last second basket from junior Ethan Parish.
Parish wasted little time getting back on the board in the second, knocking down a three on the Jaguars' first possession, then when senior guard Ikin Chan scored a moment later, Century led by seven and things appeared on the verge of getting away from the home Vikings. Forest Grove however got a quick three from Zach Burke, then pulled back within two when Guy Littlefield finished at the rim midway through the quarter, but again the Jags answered, this time scoring 10 of the half's final 14 points to lead by eight at the break.
Forest Grove got within six on a James Irvine basket to start the third quarter, and five a trip later when Littlefield made one of two free throw attempts. But that was as close as the Vikings would get over the remainder of the contest, as the Jags — led by Hamnes, Jospin Mugisha and junior Edidem Essien — hit their offensive stride, outscoring the Viks 31-20 over the game's final 10 minutes.
"We moved the ball really well in that second half, attacked the rim and didn't settle for 20-footers all the time," Kellar said. "That's what can break a team's spirit, when they defend really well and then at the end you're able to get something easy at the rim. I think that invigorated us a bit."
He also spoke to the numerous contributions made by any of a number of Jaguar players. Be it Essien's 12 points, Chance Sparks' eight points and six rebounds, and of course Hamnes, who — according to Kellar — has been really making strides of late.
"Kyle's really been making improvements," Kellar said. "He's a kid with all kinds of ability, with great quickness, but sometimes his biggest attribute can be his biggest negative. When he can kind of harness that quickness and keep it under control, he's pretty hard to defend."
And what's ahead for Century? More of what he saw tonight, Kellar hopes. But as they near the midway point of the conference season, the coach knows that it's going to be up to them if they're going to secure one of the league's playoff spots.
"We're going to keep fighting for one of those playoff spots," he said. "We feel like we gave a couple games away that we probably should've won, but we have a good schedule more or less over the last few weeks, so hopefully we can hold serve at home, maybe get some help here and there, and keep fightin'."
Meanwhile, Forest Grove may have to get back to basics. Now in fifth place in the conference and a game-and-a-half out of second, the Viks will need to right their ship if they're going to make a similar push for the postseason.
"Communication is going to be key," Evers said. "There was some complaining going on and I haven't seen that since we played down in Medford earlier in the year. That only hurts us and we need to get that straightened out."
Irvine led the Vikings with 16 points and six rebounds, while Littlefield added 12 points, Roman Miller 8, Burke 6, Jake Steltenpohl 4, Ryan Kribs 3, and Braden Hudgins 2.
Century's scorers were as followed: Hamnes 18, Essien 12, Sparks 8, Chan 8, Parish 7, Keallum Colburn 5, Mugisha 4, Zander Breault 1.
Forest Grove next hosts second place Liberty this Friday, Jan. 31, at 7:15 p.m. at Forest Grove High School.
Century has this Friday off, but will host first place Sherwood at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, at Century High School.
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