McMinnville — For the first time since January 7th, the Forest Grove Vikings hit the hardwood after being on pause with COVID issues within the program. They returned to open Pacific Conference play against the McMinnville Grizzlies, looking to get back into form and continue their hot start 8-2 start to the season. The Grizzlies are coming off a 43-37 win over Glencoe on Tuesday to improve to 1-1 in Pacific Conference play.
Maddix Bowdle and Lily Everson got the scoring going for both sides, accounting for the first ten points of the game to give McMinnville an early 6-4 lead on the Vikings. The opening quarter would be a back-and-forth affair, with Lily Everson accounting for five points and Bowdle with six points, and McMinnville leading 10-9 after the first quarter. Forest Grove would take the lead to start the second quarter on an Ally Hammond bucket, but Emily Jensen would hit a pair of treys for McMinnville to retake the lead 16-11. Down 18-12, the Vikings got a pair of buckets from Grace Burke and Lauren Buchanan to draw within two points, but a 6-0 McMinnville run to close the half was topped by a Peyton Justice buzzer beater, giving the Grizzlies a 24-16 lead at the half over Forest Grove.
Trailing by eight at the half, Forest Grove opened fire in the form of a Myle Vernon trey to cut it to 24-19. McMinnville returned a favor with a Myle Vernon trey, returning it to a 27-19 game, but back-to-back Hammond buckets brought the Vikings back into a 27-23 hole. Forest Grove closed the quarter with a Summer Hullinger trey and a free throw, closing within 29-27 after three quarters of play. The Vikings continued their hot play, drilling back-to-back treys from Buchanan and Myle Vernon, taking the lead 33-29. Leading 35-33 midway through the fourth, Forest Grove would hit a 7-0 scoring stretch to pull away with a 42-33 lead, eventually closing it out 44-36 to pick up their first conference win of the season.
Forest Grove: Welcome back Vikings, it was interesting to observe you straight out of COVID protocols. Your team certainly worked hard to pick up the dub, and it was well earned. The offensive distribution was nice, but the shot selection could’ve been better earlier on in the game. Defensively, the Vikings were solid most of the way, as they played a chess match with a perimeter centric Grizzlies offense. In the end, it was a performance they all should be happy with, especially being straight out of a COVID shutdown. Also, special shoutout to Summer Hullinger on her return to the floor after battling through injuries and the COVID issues! Hullinger looked well out on the floor, just like if she never missed a beat.
McMinnville: The fire eventually flamed out from behind the arc, putting the Grizzlies in a tough spot offensively as they tried to make things work on the inside. In the end, they couldn’t hang on and Forest Grove finished them off with their hot shooting down the stretch. The Grizzlies played well in the first half, making Forest Grove drive and get creative instead of giving them room to play to their perimeter strength. However, the second half seemed to take a toll on them energy wise, as the Vikings pushed the pace and the capability of the Grizzlies to play them tic for tac on the floor. Overall, a tough one to swallow for a team that led for 85% of the game, but lessons to learn and move on with for the Grizzlies.