Playing with house money
McMinnville boys basketball coaches had privately referred to three games on the Grizzlies’ schedule as “the trifecta.”
Feb. 11 at home against Tigard, the Class 6A Pacific Conference’s first-place team – a 63-52 win for Mac. Feb. 12 at home against Century, a game rescheduled for midweek due to snow – a 73-62 win for the Grizzlies.
On Friday, McMinnville stepped into the gym at Tualatin High School, Gage Gubrud gave the Timberwolves everything they could handle, and the Grizzlies walked away with their sixth consecutive victory, 72-60.
“It didn’t look good early, did it?” asked Mac coach Willie Graham.
No, it did not. At its nadir, McMinnville trailed 16-5 with two minutes remaining in the first quarter and 6-foot-7 post Vince Boumann confined to the bench with foul trouble.
First, Grizzlies junior Kyle Brooker, Boumann’s primary backup in the post, came through with four straight points to cut Mac’s deficit to single digits.
Then, with the first quarter winding down, the Grizzlies poked the ball away from Tualatin junior Jacob Bennett and into the backcourt.
As Bennett reached for the ball, a streaking Cameron Fox dove on the floor and recovered it instead. Fox flipped it to Drew Spence, who made a layup with four seconds remaining to tighten the Timberwolves’ lead to single digits.
“That changed the game,” Graham said of the play Fox and Spence made. “We were the aggressor.”
Gubrud kept the pressure up in the second quarter, scoring 11 of his game-high 29 points. The 6-foot-2 senior scored 80 points in the three games of the trifecta, saving his most aggressive performance for last as McMinnville (15-5, 7-4 Pacific) ran out to a 37-26 halftime lead.
Junior point guard Tanner Autencio kept the Grizzlies on target, scoring six of his nine points in the third quarter as McMinnville’s lead grew as much as 16 points. Tualatin, however, kept pushing.
A three-pointer by Taylor Boos of the Timberwolves trimmed the Grizzlies’ lead to 60-49 with 3:15 remaining. Tualatin (11-10, 7-4) forced a Mac turnover in the backcourt, and Brandon Shroyer was fouled by Gubrud on a made layup five seconds later.
“I called timeout and I said, ‘Guys, we’ve played too good today,’” Graham recalled. “’We’ve got to take the game right now.’
“We handled it from that point on.”
The Grizzlies drew fouls and sunk free throws down the stretch, finishing the game 14-of-18 from the free throw line.
Boumann finished the contest with 13 points. Luke Osborn led a balanced Tualatin offense with 12 points.
McMinnville hosts Glencoe tonight at 6:45 p.m. and Newberg Friday night at 7:15 p.m. The Newberg game will be the team’s Senior Night.