By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

Jaguars halt Mac's win streak

The McMinnville boys basketball team lost 67-57 on the road Friday vs. Century (13-6, 7-2). The loss drops the Grizzlies to 9-9 and 5-4 in the Pacific Conference.

Senior Nick Autencio led the Grizzlies with 14 points and seven rebounds, while junior Gage Gubrud added 13 points and five rebounds. Taylor Vicknair also had 13 points for Mac, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a third quarter drought.

The Grizzlies came out in the first quarter, matched the Jaguars’ intensity, and held a 13-12 lead after one. Mac struggled in the second and scored nine points, which gave Century a 25-22 halftime lead.

“We really battled,” Mac coach Willie Graham said. “And we had good execution there in the first half, and I felt that if we could carry it over to the second half, we’d have a good chance to win the game.”

The Grizzlies were not able to carry momentum into the second half, and the offensive struggled continued into the third. The Jaguars outscored McMinnville 21-11 in the quarter, and took a 46-33 lead into the fourth.

The Grizzlies weren’t going down easily. They outscored Century 24-21 in the final quarter, but Mac’s struggles in third were too big to upset the Jaguars.

The loss brings McMinnville to an even, .500 record on the season. With the loss, the Grizzlies had their four game win streak broken.

Madison McCaffery led Century with 21 points, Sam Riddle scored 19, and Austin Siminia had 12. Riddle led all scorers at the half with 10.

Junior Bryce Anderson and sophomore Matt Long were pleasant surprises for the Grizzlies. Anderson finished with five points and three assists, and Long had four points.

Mac finishes its short road trip at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday at Tigard. The Grizzlies lost at home in The Furnace to the Tigers 66-54 on Jan. 15. 

“It’s amazing how easy and fun it is when we make shots and one guy is making a ton of threes,” McMinnville coach Willie Graham said.

The Grizzlies will need more of the same from Gubrud today when they travel to play at 7:15 p.m. vs. Century. Mac is a game behind the Jaguars for third place in the Pacific Conference, and a win would give the Grizzlies even more momentum on their current four-game winning streak.

Tuesday, Gubrud hit four 3-pointers in the second quarter, turning an 11-10 Hillsboro lead at the start of the quarter into a 32-19 McMinnville lead at halftime.

Mac missed a lot of close layups in the first quarter, helping the Spartans hang around.

“It was frustrating early,” Graham said. “Then all of a sudden there was a barrage.”

There were early signs that Gubrud was in for a good night. Gubrud drilled a pull-up 3-pointer 22 seconds into the game and hit another jumper in the quarter, scoring seven of McMinnville’s 10 points. He opened the second period with another 3-pointer to take back the lead from the Spartans, and then it was off to the races for the Grizzlies. Matthew Long scored five straight points to give the Grizzlies an 18-13 lead at the 5:15 point of the second quarter, and then Gubrud took over. He scored 12 of Mac’s final 14 points.

“I hit my first couple of shots,” Gubrud said, explaining his confidence in his shot Tuesday. “I just felt it, I guess. They kept going in.

“Since sixth grade, if I make the first shot, I get confident and get rolling.”

Mac closed out the first half on a 14-2 run.

“Glad Gage was on our team tonight.”

Gubrud scored four points in the second half, but it didn’t matter for the Grizzlies. Hillsboro’s focus on him opened up the offense for other players, and Mac extended its lead to 48-27 at the end of the third quarter.

“When they were paying extra attention to Gage, other guys executed well,” Graham said. “These guys feed off of each other pretty well.”

Anton Dean led the Spartans (2-16, 1-7) in scoring with 10 points. Tyler Fernstrom scored eight, and Evan Nelson scored six for Hillsboro.

The Spartans have lost five games in a row and 10 of their last 11.

Graham was complimentary of the way senior Alex Israel played vs. Hillsboro. Israel is by no means a scorer for the Grizzlies, but he doesn’t need to be. His physical defense and leadership are qualities not all players possess.

“He’s consistently between seven and 10 hustle points every game,” Graham said. “We couldn’t have a better captain. He doesn’t take a play off.”

Mac has also relied on the defense and leadership of Nicholas Autencio. Autencio struggled shooting Tuesday but still contributed with his harassing defense. He turned an ankle in the second half vs. the Spartans, but came back to play.

“He’s a heck of a competitor,” Graham said. “We need him. He’s been a leader all year.”

Meanwhile, the Grizzlies enter a crucial stretch of games that will go a long way in deciding their fate in the Pacific Conference. After tonight’s game at Century, Mac plays Tuesday at first-place Tigard (12-7, 8-0). Then it’s a rematch at home with run-and-gun Tualatin, which is in second place in the conference at 7-1.

Mac lost 79-77 at Tualatin early in January. The Timberwolves are the highest scoring team in the state. They’ve scored 100 or more points six times this season, and they have scored at least 80 points in 11 of their 17 games.

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