Forest Grove girls cruise to a 77-42 victory in a Class 6A play-in game

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove girls basketball team members stand and cheer last Friday after the Vikings completed a 77-42 victory over North Salem in a Class 6A state play-in game.Last Friday, the Forest Grove girls basketball team made the difficult look easy.

Sure, in itself, the 77-42 victory against North Salem was not all that tough.

But the win came in a play-in game that put the Vikings (15-10) someplace they haven’t been in a while, a place that has been a challenge to reach — the Class 6A state playoffs.

Seniors Madi Andresen, Kaitlin Jamieson and Mary Hutchins all scored in double figures to lead the way in what was likely their final appearance at Joe Moran Court.

“It’s really cool ... that we’re going this year,” Hutchins said. “I mean, it’s really special to us.”

The Vikings had little trouble dealing with the task at hand against North Salem, giving the program its first state playoff berth since 2011. That year, Forest Grove lost 45-35 at Thurston of Springfield in the first round.

The members of this season’s senior class, including Hannah Swanson, Emilia Anderson and Shelby Turner, were freshmen that season, and not all of the group played on the varsity squad together back then, Hutchins noted.

The play-in game victory also helped exorcise some postseason demons. The Vikings came heartbreakingly close to a playoff appearance last year, when they also hosted a play-in round game — but they fell just short of making the 32-team field after dropping a 44-39 decision to Lakeridge.

There was no such trouble this time, as Hutchins put her squad up 7-0 to start the game and Forest Grove never looked back. The lead bloomed to 35-10 at halftime and reached 30 points by the third quarter against an overmatched North Salem team.

“Games like that, it’s just about staying focused and making sure you come out and play hard,” Forest Grove coach Dan Lumpkin said.

The three Forest Grove players in double figures had little trouble with that. Andresen led the Vikings with 17 points, while Hutchins chipped in 14 and Jamieson added 12.

Given the lopsided score, pretty much everybody on the Forest Grove roster played, including freshman Elissa Anderson — who did her best impression of older sister Emilia by knocking down a 3-pointer with less than a minute to play — plus fellow youngsters Petra Flemmer, Ashlie Collins, Rakell Barrios and Libby Hertel.

“It was really exciting (to see them play), because they come into practice and they’re there for us,” said Turner, a senior. “They do what we need them to, and for them to get out there and be able to play for themselves is exciting to see.”

Simone Leaks led North Salem (4-20) with 21 points.

The play-in game triumph set up a first-round matchup Tuesday at Crater (16-8) for 18th-seeded Forest Grove. Results against the No. 15 Comets were not available at press deadline.

The winner of that contest will face either Grant or Oregon City on Friday in the round of 16.

The Crater contest resulted in the full playoff treatment for Forest Grove. As of Friday, the plan was to travel to Central Point, just north of Medford, on Monday and spend the night in advance of Tuesday’s game.

Turner was looking forward to the destination: the playoffs.

“It is awesome, because Forest Grove hasn’t been to the playoffs since I don’t know when,” said the senior guard, who added nine points against North Salem. “This is a big step for us as friends, as a team and as a program.”

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