By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

Mac buried by a 3-point avalanche

McMinnville coach Willie Graham had his own word for the steady stream of sharpshooting.

“It’s really tough. No doubt about that,” Graham said. “It felt like we were still in it, then it just, an avalanche of threes and that was it.”

The Lions (19-6) were 9-of-14 from behind the 3-point line in the first half and led 46-27 at halftime. West Linn shot 60 percent from the field in the first two quarters, burying the Grizzlies.

“It was a tough situation,” Graham said. “They battled hard. No doubt about that. But that second quarter was really tough.”

McMinnville’s Gage Gubrud and Taylor Vicknair tried to keep the Grizzlies in the game, but the amount of talent on West Linn’s side was just too great. Mac trailed 10-8 halfway through the first quarter, but Lions win Hayden Coppedge hit back-to-back 3-pointers.

Vicknair scored eight of his 18 points in the first quarter, and Gubrud scored six points. Gubrud finished the game with 21 points. Vicknair and Gubrud were the only Mac players in double figures. It took until the 2:38 mark of the second quarter before someone other than Vicknair or Gubrud scored for the Grizzlies.

“It’s tough for us to score bunches of points,” Graham said.

Coppedge scored 24 points for West Linn, and sophomore Anthony Mathis scored 26. The two combined for eight of West Linn’s 3-pointers in the first half.

Junior post Ryan Shearmire scored 11 points for the Lions. Graham said Shearmire was the main focus of the game plan.

“We knew they could shoot, but Shearmire has been an absolute beast for them,” Graham said, “and we wanted to make sure he didn’t get shots at the basket too easy. Our game plan was also to get up on (Mathis) and (Coppedge), and it didn’t happen. We tried switching screens and not letting them get the shots off, but that didn’t seem to help either.”

West Linn’s lead ballooned to 25 points with 51 seconds left in the third quarter, and the Lions led 61-38 at the start of the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies actually played the Lions even in the second half, but the hot start to the game for West Linn had earned it enough of a cushion where the lead was never in doubt.

The Grizzlies did receive a bit of good news earlier Tuesday. Senior guard Spencer Payne went in for a scheduled doctor appointment to get his broken wrist looked at. He thought he was going to be put in another cast or be told he needed surgery. Either is still a big possibility, but his doctor gave him a gift he will remember forever.

“She told me, ‘You’re a senior. You’ve been in a cast a long time. I’m going to give you a cast holiday,’” Payne said. “Instantly I got up and hugged my doctor and thanked her. That meant I could play basketball.

“It shocked me. … Heart stopped. Super excited.”

Payne, who practiced the entire season with the Grizzlies but didn’t play in any of their 23 regular-season games, suited up Tuesday vs. West Linn and went through warm ups. He didn’t start, but with 3:27 left in the first quarter, he popped up off the bench and jogged to the scorer’s table. When he got in the game, a big cheer went up from the substantial group of McMinnville fans that made the trip.

It had been a year since Payne had played in a varsity basketball game — his last game of the year was Mac’s 65-45 loss at South Medford in the first round of the 2012 state playoffs — but he immediately got to work. He picked up his opponent in the backcourt and harassed him the entire way up the floor. Payne pushed the ball up the floor on offense and made a few nice passes to cutting teammates.

“It was a lot of fun,” Payne said. “Great feeling. I missed it all year.”

The inevitable finally happened with 1:38 left in the second quarter. Payne leapt in the air and knocked down a pass at half court. He scrambled for the loose ball and raced in for a layup. The wild shot hung on the rim before falling in, and West Linn’s Payton Pritchard was called for a foul. Payne converted the foul shot.

“I thought he played hard and made some plays,” Graham said. “The kid has practiced all year and definitely given us everything he could.”

He had another similar play at the start of the fourth quarter. Payne finished his first — and final — game of his senior season with six points, four assists, two rebounds and four steals.

“I’m extremely happy. That’s really all I wanted was to play one with these guys,” Payne said. “They’re all my best friends. Had a good time competing.”

Still, Graham said he couldn’t help but turn to his assistants and ponder what could have been if Payne had been healthy the entire season. He said the rest of the team was more than fine with Payne getting into the rotation.

“We said that a few times. You could see he’s a difference maker,” Graham said. “It would have been nice to have him all year, but it was nice to give him the opportunity to play and the team was all behind him.”

Nicholas Autencio and Bryce Anderson both hit 3-pointers for McMinnville. Alex Israel and Blaine Parker each scored two points. Parker led all Grizzlies with five rebounds.

McMinnville shot 22-for-50 from the field and had 14 turnovers.

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