Sherwood takes first-place battle with Forest Grove
It was anyone's to win, but with the game tied and seven minutes remaining, it was Sherwood that rose to the challenge and secured first place atop the Pacific Conference standings, defeating Forest Grove in a girls basketball game 43-34 Tuesday night, Jan. 25, at Forest Grove High School.
Trailing by just two with 1:40 remaining in the game, the Vikings (11-3, 3-1) went cold from the field and worse yet, frigid from the free throw line, which ultimately sealed their fate — something their coach knows is problematic.
"Against good teams and in games that come down to a few possessions, you can't have empty offensive trips," Forest Grove head coach Dan Lumpkin said. "We are usually a solid free throw shooting team, but we missed five in a row right there at the end, and you can't do that in tight games."
Sherwood head coach Lauren Howard said she was pleased with how her team executed both offensively and defensively when it mattered most.
"We played calm and under control in the fourth quarter," Howard said the day after the game. "We've had a lot of close games this year and have struggled to maintain our patience down the stretch, but last night, we kept calm and executed well down the stretch to get a couple solid buckets and stops on the defensive end."
Overall, Howard was equally pleased with her team's effort, in addition to their ability to overcome the turnovers that dug them into a halftime hole.
"We fought really hard all game," she said. "We struggled with turning the ball over in the first half, but we were able to calm down and take care of it in the second half."
The Bowmen (6-9, 4-0) built a 13-6 first-quarter lead but spent the entire second quarter playing without standout post Ava Heiden, who picked up two first-quarter fouls.
In Heiden's absence, the Vikings were able to pull even with the visiting Bowmen, and when sophomores Emma Emerson and Lauren Buchanan finished three-point plays late in the second quarter, Forest Grove took a 23-17 lead to the halftime locker room.
Howard acknowledged Heiden's importance to the team, but she added that — despite losing the lead — she thought the Lady Bowmen did some good things without her.
"Ava is a huge presence for us and dictates a lot of what we see defensively," Howard said. "We had spurts of Sherwood basketball when she was out, but Forest Grove did a good job controlling the tempo in the second quarter."
Heiden returned in the third quarter, however, and with the 6-foot-4 post came a significant deterrent to Viking players looking to attack the rim.
"When she was in the game, we tried to pull her away from the basket as much as possible to open up some driving lanes," Lumpkin said. "At times, we were able to attack the basket and either get to the hoop or find shooters on the outside, but she's tough."
So tough that the Vikes managed just five third-quarter points and 11 in all over the course of the game's final 16 minutes. Heiden was obviously a factor, but it was Sherwood sophomore Sabrina Flowers who effectively salted the game away, making six free throws down the stretch and eight overall en route to a game-high 15 points.
The win was the fourth straight for the Bowmen after dropping eight straight prior, six of which were by less than 10 points. Howard said they're making strides, much of which she added could be attributed to the work they have put in.
"We have come so far since the beginning of the season," she said. "This team works harder than any team I have ever coached, we just needed to figure out how to compete down the stretch and control the tempo ourselves versus our opponent controlling the tempo. We have started doing that and it has made a huge difference in how we play throughout each game."
Despite the loss, Lumpkin too was proud of his team, especially on the defensive end, where he singled out the work of Everson and junior Summer Hullinger. The Forest Grove coach said they'll continue to work on their execution on both ends of the court, and he hopes that when they see the Bowmen again later on this season, they'll force a different outcome.
"Overall, I was pleased with their effort throughout the game," Lumpkin said. "Our offense struggled at times, but we will evaluate and be ready to play them again in a couple of weeks."
Forest Grove scorers included: Buchanan 10, Everson 9, Myle Vernon 6, Ally Hammond 4, Emerson 3, Alli Klaus 2.
Sherwood scorers included: Flowers 15, Heiden 10, Mandie Jensen 7, Paige Bittner 6, Sophia Carleton 3, Laney Snelling 2.
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