By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

Part one of Yamhill-County rivalry goes to McMinnville

The McMinnville boys basketball team (8-8) defeated Newberg 53-40 Friday night at the Furnace, and for the first time this season the gym was packed and a pep band’s sound bounced off the walls.

So did the spirited yells of the Grizzlies’ student section, chanting at the small gathering of Newberg students across the gym.

“Just like football,” the students began, reminding everyone of McMinnville’s 35-12 win in football this past season. The cheers weren’t done.

“Just like wrestling!” That one referred to Mac’s win Thursday at Newberg in a dual wrestling match, the first win by the Grizzlies vs. Newberg since the 1980-81 school year.

“Just like soccer!” The Grizzlies beat Newberg 3-1 in boys soccer in the fall.

“Our crowd is all time,” senior Taylor Vicknair said. “They bring it. They’re the best.”

The crowd couldn’t help but add one more: “Just like volleyball!” Mac defeated Newberg twice in September.

“The kids love it. The community loves it,” McMinnville coach Willie Graham said of the atmosphere in the gym. “It’s good to beat Newberg after losing to them twice last year. The crowd is awesome.”

While McMinnville hasn’t gone undefeated this year vs. the Tigers (Newberg’s girls soccer team defeated Mac 2-1 in October), Grizzlies athletics have enjoyed a bit of a good stretch vs. their rivals to the north, and it continued Friday.

McMinnville led 22-18 at halftime and 40-31 at the end of the third quarter.

Mac put the game away in the fourth quarter. With 5:38 to go in the game, junior Gage Gubrud scored back-to-back layups, and he was fouled on the second with 3:35 left. Gubrud made the free throw, and 30 seconds later Taylor Vicknair also scored on a layup.

Bryce Anderson capped the 9-0 run with a third layup with 2:33 left in the game, giving the Grizzlies a 49-33 lead.

“They did a great job,” Graham said of the three consecutive layups. “They were solid, executed and were in control. All three of those plays featured those things.”

Vicknair scored 18 points for the Grizzlies and had five rebounds. Gubrud scored 12 points, and Anderson added 11. Blaine Parker scored eight. Matthew Long and Tanner Autencio each scored two points.

“We played really good defense down the stretch,” Vicknair said. “That led to good offense.”

The Grizzlies needed it vs. Newberg. The Tigers are 0-16 this season, but Graham commented after the game that they don’t play like a winless team. Newberg never let McMinnville run away with the game.

“Newberg isn’t bad. They’re physical and get after it,” he said. “It was tight all the way through.”

The win was Mac’s third in a row and moved it to 4-3 at the halfway point of the Pacific Conference schedule. The Grizzlies play at 5:30 p.m. today at home vs. Hillsboro (1-6, 2-15). Then comes a tough three-game stretch where Mac plays at Century, at Tigard and then at home vs. Tualatin on Feb. 8. Mac plays four games on the road and three at home in its final seven games of the season.

“We have to take advantage of the home games we have left,” Graham said.

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