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The monkeys off the Pioneers backs

Oregon City High School cagers got the monkey off their backs over the weekend, as they won two games and bagged first place at their own basketball tournament.

The Pioneers dropped Gresham 56-44 on Friday, and they held off McKay down the stretch for a 68-67 victory in Saturday night's final.

Friday's win over the Gophers snapped a season losing skid at five games.

'We've starting executing the little things we work on every day in practice that we haven't been doing enough in games,' said Oregon City coach Eric DeWitz.

Junior post Nolan Muckenthaler (15 points), senior guards Joey Baldwin (14 points) and Cody Hole (9 points), and senior wing Christian Jones (9 points) led a balanced effort against McKay.

The Pioneers built a 32-20 lead in the first half, but watched the lead melt away when the Royal Scots got hot from downtown. McKay's Michael Tolento (23 points) made seven 3-point baskets, four of them in the fourth quarter, when the Royal Scots put 31 points on the scoreboard.

The Royal Scots trimmed the gap to 68-67 with a desperation shot at the buzzer, but they never did catch the Pioneers.

Oregon City 6-2 post Arnold Nguyen held his own on the inside, claiming six rebounds.

Junior guard Valentino Polk sparked the Pioneer offense with seven assists.

Jones (15 points), Polk (11 points, 4 assists) and senior wing A.J. Mayo (11 points) headed the effort against Gresham on Friday.

Mayo was huge in the second quarter, scoring nine points as the Pioneers stretched a 10-8 first-quarter advantage to 32-22 at the intermission. Mayo had some misfortunate early in the third period, when he suffered a concussion.

The Pioneer cage boss said he was hopeful that Mayo would be able to return within a week.