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Jayden Junta led all scorers with 18 points and the Kingsmen made 15 of 18 free throws in the final 1:52 to seal Friday's road win

PMG PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Putnam's Grant Ferguson pushes the ball up the court under pressure from Milwaukie's Deegan McCord (11) in the second half of Friday's Northwest Oregon Conference boys basketball game.Something got into Putnam's boys basketball team during the second half on Friday night that was more than the Milwaukie Mustangs were prepared to handle.

Putnam's Jayden Junta scored nine of his game-high 18 points in the second half, rallying the Kingsmen to a 69-65 Northwest Oregon Conference victory over the No. 9-ranked Mustangs at Milwaukie High School.

Grant Ferguson added 15 points and Marcellas Kenion finished with 14 as the Kingsmen (7-9, 4-4 NWOC) snapped a two-game skid and earned a split of the two-game season series with the crosstown rival Mustangs.

Putnam trailed 33-27 at halftime, but then went on a 9-0 run to open the second half and then knocked down 15 of 18 free throws in the closing 1:52 to seal the win.

"We played hard from beginning to end," said Junta, the Kingsmen's junior post. "I think that was the biggest thing for us — playing fast, doing what we do, and playing how we're coached to play."

Milwaukie's Alilyeon Ford scored 13 points to lead four players in double figures for the No. 9-ranked Mustangs (12-5, 5-3) who lost for only the second time in six games.

"We didn't come out as strong as we usually do," Ford said. "We were getting beat back-door and we just weren't together as a team. We let our emotions get the best of us and Putnam brought out the worst in us, honestly."

There were five lead changes in the first quarter and then Milwaukie closed the second on a 10-5 run to take a 33-27 lead into the break.

Putnam opened the third quarter on a 9-0 run to take a 36-33 lead, Milwaukie came back to tie it at 38-38, and then the Kingsmen took the lead for good on a Ferguson runner in the lane the made it 40-38 with 2:34 left in the quarter.

Strategic shift

The Mustangs tried to swing the momentum with their usually reliable on-ball pressure, but the Kingsmen counteracted that with some tremendous movement away from the ball that turned into several easy lay-ups — a dramatic turnaround for Putnam after Tuesday's 35-30 loss to Scappoose.

"We rolled out some old offenses and that really helped us tonight," Kingsmen coach Gregg Griffin said, giving a nod to assistant Kevin Mixon. "I think we just kept preaching to the kids that we were in good shape and wanted to keep running and keep playing together."

Milwaukie's Keshawn Myles scored on a transition lay-up to cut Putnam's lead to 50-47 with 4:29 to play in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as the Mustangs could get in the final five minutes.

Ferguson scored off a Mustangs' turnover and K.J. Ruffo added a lay-up with an assist from Vincent Salvione that extended the lead to 54-47 with 2:49 remaining.

With just under two minutes to play, Milwaukie started sending Putnam to the foul line, and the Kingsmen did what they needed to do to maintain at least a two-possession lead the rest of the way.

"We played smart, kept calm, and knocked down our free throws," said Ferguson, the junior point guard. "Winning feels great for all of us. Losing to Milwaukie at our gym didn't feel good, so we wanted to make up for that here."

Playoff chase

Putnam climbed into a tie with La Salle Prep for fourth place, while Milwaukie dropped to third, one game behind Parkrose and three back of league-leading Wilsonville.

"That bolsters our spirits and keeps us in the hunt," Griffin said. "The loss to Scappoose really hurt, but now we've got to beat some people. If we do, we're OK. If not, so be it."

Milwaukie's Keshawn Myles and Hector Penaloza finished with 12 points each, and Logan Law added 10 for the Mustangs.

"It was a big game," said Ford, the Mustangs' senior guard. "I think Putnam really wanted to come out and smack us in the face at our place, just so they could get back at us. They really didn't want to lose today, they outworked us, and they got the win.

"A big disappointment for us. It hurt not only our record and in league, but it hurts us mentally. I think this lit a fire in all of our chests and I think when we come out for our next game, it's going to be way more intense."

PUTNAM 12 15 19 23 — 69

MILWAUKIE 15 18 10 22 — 65

Putnam (69) — Jayden Junta 18, Ferguson 15, Kenion 14, Sholty 7, Turner 6, Salvione 6, Ruffo 3, Greenleaf.

Milwaukie (65) — Alilyeon Ford 13, Myles 12, Penaloza 12, Law 10, McCord 7, Mey 7, Corder 4, Plumb.

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