Celt Deven Hunter breaks away from the pack with teammate Jessica Darras hot on her heels in the South Eugene game Tuesday, Dec. 6. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

In its season-opener, the McNary High School girls varsity basketball team cruised past the Newberg High School Tigers for a 57-34 win.

“Usually in first games you’re trying to figure each other out, but we seemed to pick up where we left off,” said Averi Wing, a Celtic senior.

McNary set the tone for the game early on taking a 20-8 lead in the first period and then coasting on the tailwinds of Oregon State University recruit Deven Hunter’s 24-point game. Lady Celt Jessica Darras added 10 points.

“Deven had another phenomenal game and and Teresa Peterson had an excellent game playing really strong defensively, shooting well and really hustling,” said Molly Gehley, McNary head coach. “Our defensive emphasis paid off really well, and we were able to get a lot of balls up high.”

“We had a lot of hustle. Deven and Teresa were outstanding in their hustle and as a team we just seemed to have improved,” added junior Stacey Titchenal.

While it never hurts to start the season with a win, both players and coaches found room for improvement in the outing.

“Offensively, a lot of our baskets were quick fast breaks and we didn’t pass it around as much as we could have. We have a transition offense that will help us work back down the court and we didn’t set that up once,” Titchenal said.

Half-court offense needs sharpening up and the team needs to utilize all the skills on the court by passing the ball around more, Gehley said.

As the game progressed, Wing said the team was looking more tired than she’d expected.

“I think that we need to get in better shape. We were kind of tired at the end, but we can be quicker up the court,” she said. “We just need to keep working hard, showing up to play each night and we can’t be scared of any opponent.”

The Celtics routed the South Eugene High School Axemen Tuesday, Dec. 6, 52-38. Hunter paced the McNary team with 30 points and nine rebounds in a game where South Eugene rarely threatened. Peterson added eight points including a three-pointer, Darras had six points, and Baili Keeton and Averi Wing had four points apiece.