The unheralded Oregon City Pioneers gave 11th-ranked McMinnville a run for its money in the March 5 first round of the Class 6A high school boys basketball playoffs.

The Grizzles prevailed 59-51 and bagged their 10th straight victory. But it took some fourth quarter heroics from Grizzly 6-3 senior point guard Gage Gubrud and Grizzly 6-7 senior post Vince Boumann for McMinnville to rally to the win.

Gubrud scored nine of his game-high 22 points in the fourth stanza, when the Grizzlies outscored their guests 22-12, to rally to a come-from-behind victory. And Boumann (19 points) upped his intensity on the inside in the fourth period, got to the line, and made all of his free throws.

“It was a great atmosphere for a high school basketball game,” said Oregon City coach Aaron Newkirk. “I’m proud of our kids and the way they competed. We had a chance to win against a good team. But with the large crowd and Gubrud and Boumann being seniors, they weren’t going to go down without a fight. We’ll be older next year and, hopefully we can get that home-court advantage for the playoffs....”

Sophomore guard Briggs Young had a big game for Oregon City in the losing effort, knocking down three 3-pointers, while hitting 8-of-13 shots from the floor, en route to a team-high 21 points.

Junior wing Austin DeWitz added 15 points, on 4-for-6 shooting, and he had three assists; senior post Brad Martin tallied 13 points and he claimed a team-high five rebounds.

The win advanced the Grizzles (19-5) to a March 8 showdown at sixth-ranked Sunset (18-6), with a berth in the Class 6A State Tournament on the line. Sunset won that game, 83-71.

With the loss, Oregon City finished the season with an overall record of 13-12.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Newkirk. “It’s slow progress, but it’s progress. Last year we lost to Grant by 30 points in the play-in round.”

Newkirk is excited about next year, with five players who saw a considerable amount of starting action this season expected to return.

“We’ll have four double figures scorers coming back,” Newkirk said. “That’s awesome! Our leading scorer coming back from last year this season was Hunter Knighton, and he was only averaging 8.8 points a game.”

Juniors Knighton (14.7 ppg) and DeWitz (12.2 ppg), and sophomores Briggs Young (12.5 ppg) and Trevon Bradford (11.4 ppg) all averaged in double figures during the past season, although Knighton and Bradford only played in 11 games, mostly due to injuries. All four saw starting action, along with 6-2 junior post Chris Mengis.

“Chris didn’t score a lot of points, but he started almost the enter season,” said Newkirk. “We’ll have five starters coming back.”

Oregon City loses only three seniors to graduation — Ryan Markuson, Brad Martin and Nick Kloepper.

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