Celt Aerial Rice looks for an open teammate during McNary’s game with North Salem High School. The Celtics doled out a 60-8 drubbing to the Vikings. (Photo by Jim Sweigart)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The Lady Celts of the McNary High School girls varsity basketball team knew winning against West Salem High School would likely be their biggest challenge of the season. Unfortunately, knowing that and preparing for it didn’t change the results.

The Titans squeaked by the Celts in their first meeting of the season, 52-47.

“I feel like we did pretty good, but we let them rush us with their press,” said Celt Stacey Titchenal. “The frustrating part was we knew how to break it. For me, it was like I wasn’t focusing as hard as I needed to.”

For the first three quarters of the game, mistakes piled on each other, said Celt Caitlin Tartak, “we had one mistake and it kind of snowballed on us.”

After one single-digit quarter and two when McNary barely managed double digits, the Lady Celts rebounded for a 20-point fourth period to close out the game.

“When we finally started making a comeback and getting the energy that we needed it was a little too late,” Titchenal said.

Deven Hunter led the team in scoring with 18 points, Teresa Peterson added eight, Averi Wing put up eight, including two three-point goals, Jessica Darras had three points and Titchenal had a three-pointer.

Despite the loss, the team stuck together through some cold moments on the court, said Molly Gehley, McNary head coach.

“Our girls kept fighting,” she said. “Ashlee Koenig, Caitlin Tartak and Aerial Rice all went in and gave us a spark off the bench. That was nice to see as part of a good team effort.”

In the wake of their first Central Valley conference loss, the Lady Celts scored their first win in a 60-8 rout of the North Salem High School Vikings.

“We started out strong, and we kept focus despite it not being the toughest game of the year,” Tartak said.

Hunter led scoring with 21 points and rebounds, seven, Tartak put in nine points, Titchenal and Peterson added eight points apiece, Averi Wing had six points, and Jasmine Ernest, Koenig, Rice and Darras had two points each.

McNary faces two of the lesser CVC teams this week in McKay and Sprague high schools, but Titchenal didn’t want to look past any opponent.

“We can’t go into any game thinking we’ve already won,” she said. “We will be working on our press and switching up our defense to make it harder for other teams to get a bead on us.”

Tartak wanted to see the team get better at on-the-court communication.

After a rough series of games against tough opponents in the preseason and then the opening loss to West Salem, Gehley is eager for the team to get back on a roll.

“Our focus is on us in that we have to stay focused and intense, we can’t let ourselves slide,” Gehley said.