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Vikings cruise to fourth straight win


Forest Grove pulls away from Hillsboro to open Pacific Conference play with a win

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove senior Michael Garcia gets fouled by Hillsboro's Blake Pearson during the teams' Pacific Conference opener last Friday. Garcia had 12 points in a 61-43 Forest Grove victory, which lifted the Vikings to 
No. 5 in the most recent OSAA Class 6A state rankings.HILLSBORO — The Forest Grove boys basketball team needed a bit of time to figure out Hilhi’s defense last Friday, but once the Vikings did, they never looked back.

The pesky Spartans hung around for a half with Forest Grove, but then the visitors poured on 20 points in the third quarter on their way to a 61-43 victory in both squads’ Pacific Conference opener at Hillsboro High School. Winners of their fourth game in a row, the Vikings improved to 8-3 overall and moved to No. 5 in the OSAA Class 6A power rankings. Hilhi fell to 2-9.

Though the final margin of victory looks comfortable on paper, Hilhi made Forest Grove work for the win and threw a lot of different looks at the Vikings on defense.

“They kept us off-balance, so ... we went to some schemes that we worked against man or a zone and really tried to get the ball inside, because they were trying to take away our perimeter shooting, and we weren’t shooting the ball very well anyway from the perimeter,” Forest Grove coach Greg Evers said. “So we went to that and Angler (Emerick), especially.”

Though a bit undersized down low at 6-foot-2, Emerick plays bigger than that and has started to become an inside force in recent weeks for the Vikings, making a team that boasts several long-distance shooting options even more dangerous. The junior recorded 12 of his game-high 17 points during the second and third quarters while Forest Grove started pulling away.

Afterward, Emerick was content to put his own contributions in a team context.

“I’m glad we’re playing good as a team,” he said. “That was a good win.”

Emerick’s three consecutive free throws midway through the second quarter put the Vikings up 23-15 to match their largest lead of the night at that point. Then, late in the third — evidence of Forest Grove working the ball inside against the undersized Spartans — Emerick cashed in on a three-point play and fellow post Ben Godfrey scored two consecutive layups to build the lead to 46-26 with eight minutes to go.

“When you get the ball down low, there’s unlimited options,” said sophomore Taylor Jensen, who contributed 13 points, six steals and five assists to the victory. “We weren’t hitting all that well tonight, but since we made them sink down, we got open shots and then we started hitting.”

The Spartans — scrappy until the end — continued to hang around, cutting their deficit to 51-40 when Blake Pearson knocked down a shot while being fouled by Jensen. He also hit the ensuing free throw.

But Emerick answered right away with a three-point play of his own less than a minute later to put the lead back up to 14 points, and eventually both coaches cleared their benches.

Emerick’s shooting consistency — he was 5-of-6 from the field and 7-of-9 from the charity stripe — proved quite helpful on a night in which both teams played with a great deal of defensive intensity and the Vikings struggled from the field, hitting just 12-of-43 shots.

“Now we’ve got some answers to we’re not shooting well from the outside tonight,” said Evers, who picked up his first win inside Hilhi’s building since taking over the boys program. “We’ve got a little bit more of a quality answer there.”

Michael Garcia also hit double digits for Forest Grove with 12 points.

Earlier last week, the Vikings picked up a 68-53 win against Westview to round out their nonconference schedule. That meant that heading into Tuesday’s league contest at Tualatin, Forest Grove’s three losses this season — to Lincoln, South Salem and West Albany — had come to teams ranked in the top seven of either Class 5A or 6A.

Against the Wildcats, Garcia led the way with 19 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists. Emerick added 12 points and five rebounds, while Godfrey notched 10 points and Jensen had nine.

Results of Tuesday’s game against Tualatin were not available at press time. This Friday, Forest Grove welcomes Glencoe to Joe Moran Court. The Vikings-Crimson Tide girls clash kicks off the evening at 5:45 p.m. The boys game will follow at 7:15.