By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

McMillan, McMinnville top Tualatin

The McMinnville girls basketball team has been resurgent in the second half of its Class 6A Pacific Conference schedule, and Audrey McMillan is a major reason why.

The 5-foot-11 junior has started every game in the post for the Grizzlies this season, often matching up against the opposition’s biggest and most physical players. As time has gone on, McMillan has showcased more of her game, handling the ball more and shooting from distance occasionally, throwing off opposing defenses and allowing her – and the Grizzlies – to flourish.

“She’s very aggressive going to the basket,” McMinnville coach Sean Coste said. “She’s a big rebounder.”

McMillan showed up big when the Grizzlies needed her most, scoring a team-high 20 points as Mac took down Class 6A Pacific Conference foe Tualatin, 57-54, Friday night at Tualatin High School.

The Grizzlies (6-14, 3-8 Pacific) defeated the Timberwolves (11-8, 6-5) on the road for the first time in Coste’s nine-year tenure as head coach and won back-to-back games for the first time this season.

Though McMinnville shot 44.8 percent from the field (13-of-29), the Grizzlies attempted more free throws (33) than field goals, making 28 shots from the charity stripe against an aggressive Timberwolves defense.

Sometimes too aggressive.

“When you’re playing throughout the game really aggressively and attacking when it’s that close, it’s hard to play like that,” Coste said. “When we did get rebounds, they were fouling.”

Also challenging the Grizzlies was the absence of junior guard Bethany Mohler, who watched the game in street clothes after suffering a head injury against Century on Feb. 12. Coste started seniors Molly Olsen and Kerigan Morton in a lineup rarely seen this season.

The move paid off. Olsen scored 10 points, including seven in the third quarter to help the Grizzlies overcome a 28-22 halftime deficit and take a 41-36 lead into the fourth quarter. Morton made just two baskets, but she was fouled on both and made the ensuing free throws for six points.

As stats go, McMinnville was 2-for-2 on field goals in the fourth quarter – layups by Emily Bliven and McMillan. But the Grizzlies were 12-of-15 from the free throw line, keeping Tualatin from ever taking the lead in the period.

That Mac could be in such a position seemed unfathomable after the first quarter, when the Timberwolves led 13-4. Foul trouble eventually strained Tualatin, and McMillan scored eight of her points to put the Grizzlies back in the game.

“There was a part early where they were pushing us around,” Coste said. “Coming into Tualatin and winning on their home floor is big.”

Timberwolves senior Lindsay Barrow scored 20 points to lead her team. Bliven contributed 10 points for the Grizzlies.

Mac plays at Glencoe tonight at 6:45 p.m. before hosting Newberg Friday night at 5:45 p.m.

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