Sherwood boys step up to top Forest Grove
SHERWOOD — Sherwood won the game. Let there be no question. But in the wake of a 56-40 defeat for the Forest Grove Vikings on Friday, Feb. 8, at Sherwood High School, there were some questions regarding the officiating, summed up by one very big play to start the second half.
"We were right there at the half, and the whole thing changed when they blew that whistle when we had that layup," said Forest Grove head coach Greg Evers. "It was ridiculous."
With the Vikings (6-3, 16-5) leading 26-24 and with the ball in the opening two minutes of the third quarter, Sherwood post Braden Thorn took what appeared to be incidental contact to the face under the basket. While the Bowmen senior folded with his hands over his face, the Vikings' Guy Littlefield found an open man under the basket for what appeared to be an easy layup to put the Viks up four. But the referee blew the whistle and stopped play prior to the bucket, nullifying the ensuing score and setting off a heated exchange between the officials and the Forest Grove coaching staff.
"I'm not blaming the officials, but I just didn't like how the game was officiated," Evers said. "I just thought it was very inconsistent, and there were some huge plays as a result. None bigger than that one."
And it was big. The Bowmen (8-1, 17-5) went on to stop the Vikings on the ensuing possession, then after Sherwood junior forward Blake Jensen tied the game with a point blank turn-around, Sherwood scored nine straight and opened up what would amount to an insurmountable lead.
"This is a huge win," said Sherwood junior point guard Jamison Guerra. "Coming off a win over McMinnville, we really wanted to keep things rolling, especially coming into this last part of the season. After losing to Newberg, we had to get that chip back on our shoulder and play a little angry. It's nice being undefeated, but getting that first loss kind of gets you going again, and I think that did that for us."
Guerra, who led the Bowmen with 17 points and nine rebounds, spoke highly of his team and their effort against the Vikings on this night.
"It was a great win and we had to grind it out for three quarters," he said. "But we finally got where we needed to be."
The visiting Vikings jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Sherwood ultimately tied the game 11-11 after one quarter. The Bowmen built a five-point lead five minutes into the second on the back of Guerra's inside-outside game, in addition to Jensen's gritty play in the paint. Forest Grove, however, fought back, scoring eight straight beginning with two Eli Leto free throws and ending with six consecutive Littlefield points to put the Viks ahead 24-21 at the half.
Sherwood had prepared for Littlefield, though. The Bowmen were resolved not to let the Vikings standout beat them.
"We talked at halftime about how it had to be team defense to stop Littlefield, and that it wasn't just Asher (Krauel) out there by himself," Guerra said. "We had to do what we could to help him. Our goal was to hold him to 10 points tonight, and he got some good looks in the first half, but in the second half, we were able to clamp down on him."
It wasn't just Littlefield that Sherwood neutralized, but the entire Vikings team. Forest Grove scored just three points in the third quarter and 13 points in the fourth.
"The theme of the game was physicality, and in the second half, we really dialed in our defense," said Sherwood head coach Rahim Tufts. "Every point they scored in the second half, they really had to work for."
After the Bowmen's nine-point run following the questionable third-quarter call, Sherwood took a 40-27 lead to the fourth before the Viks cut the lead to eight a few minutes into the final stanza. But four consecutive errant Forest Grove free throws coupled with 3-pointers from Guerra, Ryan Sandilands and Cade Chidester slammed the door shut, icing the second of consecutive wins since Sherwood's first conference loss to Newberg on Friday, Feb. 1.
In addition to Guerra, the Bowmen were led by Jensen, who had 16 points and seven rebounds.