Ally Hammond is fast, but not so furious
The Forest Grove Vikings girls basketball team is 12-3 overall this season, and much of their success can be attributed to the leadership of senior Ally Hammond.
The 5-foot-9 senior guard is averaging 10.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, nearly two assists and two steals, along with a block per game.
But while the tangibles are present and accounted for, it's the intangibles that stand out to Forest Grove head coach Dan Lumpkin.
"I have enjoyed every minute of coaching her," the coach said. "She is such a hard worker, and not selfish at all. She is the kind of kid that you look forward to coaching and being around every day."
And that's good due to the senior's leadership role this season.
Hammond, who is Forest Grove's team captain, said that while she feels she's a natural leader, it hasn't been entirely easy becoming the person to whom the rest of the girls look for guidance in practice and games.
"I definitely enjoy it," she said. "It's different than it was in previous years, but I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job."
She must be doing something right, because prior to last week's narrow loss to Sherwood, the Vikings had won five straight and eight of their last nine.
Hammond said she's been happy with how the team's performed despite a couple of hiccups but added that much of the team's struggles come from lulls that have occurred early on, midway or even at the ends of games.
"I feel like we often start out not really playing well, then come back in the second half, or it's the other way around," Hammond said. "We need to bring that together, because against good teams, it's hard to win that way."
The basketball court isn't the only place Hammond thrives. She said she's been participating in athletics from a young age and got into them because of her dad's affinity for sports — something she said they talk about 24/7.
As a freshman, the slightly built sprinter finished second in the 100 meters, fourth in the 100-meter hurdles, first in the long jump, and second in the triple jump at the Pacific Conference Track & Field Championships, and later that year, she placed 14th in the 100 meters, 16th in the long jump and 13th in the triple jump at the OSAA state championships at Mt. Hood Community College.
Lumpkin said it's that type of athleticism that gives Hammond a leg up on her competition on both ends of the floor.
"She is such a dynamic player," he said. "She's quick in the half court, fast in the open court, and she has length for a guard, which allows her to guard multiple positions and rebound effectively."
Sadly, like many, Hammond missed her entire sophomore track season because of COVID-19 cancellations and was limited last year due to the abbreviated season. She noted that it wasn't something to dwell upon, but she acknowledged the disappointment she feels about it looking back.
"Missing my sophomore year was a big deal, because I did really good my freshman year," Hammond said. "Then, having that year off, it made it difficult to come back from."
For Hammond, the disappointment of the past two years will make this track season that much more special; she's really looking forward to the spring. But meanwhile, there's plenty more basketball to play.
Lumpkin said he's seen a lot of growth in Hammond over the years, but this season, it all seems to stem from added confidence.
"As a freshman and sophomore, she could be rattled easily and panicked out on the court when things would get tough or when she was in a pressure situation, but now she seems much more comfortable in those moments," the coach said. "Against Ridgeview, when they tied the game with about eight seconds or so left in the game, she took the ball and went the length of the floor, attacking the hoop to get the basket and the foul with about two seconds left. That kind of confidence is what stands out the most."
Beyond the athletic arena, Hammond is an excellent student who's aiming at an education and career in marine biology. She said she hasn't ruled out the possibility of playing sports in college, but — at least for now — she's focusing more intently on her education, and of course, the rest of the high school basketball season.
"I feel really good about this team," she said. "We've been doing really well and get along great, so I have really high hopes for us."
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