McNary’s Connor Goff stares down a McKay defender in a game Monday, Jan. 23. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

There are nights when the shots simply don’t drop.

Despite it being one of those nights, the McNary High School boys varsity basketball team battled the McKay High School Royal Scots off the boards to its first Celtic win in the Central Valley Conference. McNary took the game 44-41.

“A win is a win and one of the things we talked about was how important rebounding is,” said Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach. “We were a little short-handed, but our guys challenged them under the net and rose to the task.”

McNary struggled throughout the first half of the game to sink a shot. The Celts managed just 4 of 27 from the field.

“The good thing was that we hustled and got a ton of rebounds and got a lot of shot opportunities that we needed at the time,” said Dylan McHugh, a McNary senior.

McNary kept the Scots’ lead small, 19-17 at the half, and strong defense in the third period prevented the visiting team from gaining ground.

“Defensive pressure made it tough for them and nothing was easy,” said Celt Nick McDonald.

McKay was up by one, when McNary’s Garren Robinett hit a three-point goal to take the lead, 36-34, at 4:29 in the fourth period. The Scots knotted the game at 38-38 two minutes later, but Isaiah Montano hit one from the field to put the Celts over the top with 1:21 left in the game.

“We were hustling around and the offensive boards kept us in the game,” Robinett said.

Freshman Connor Goff led the Celtic squad with nine rebounds, McHugh contributed eight.

Montano led the team in scoring with 14 points, Robinett and Johnathan Doutt had seven points each, McDonald had six, Goff had five, McHugh had four and Hayden McCowan hit one from the free throw line.

Prior to the McKay game, McNary squared off with Sprague High School in a game that started out rough and stayed that way. Celt post Justin Burgess was ejected in early minutes after getting swept up in an on-court altercation.

“Unfortunately, we lost our composure a little bit and then it was a perfect storm with them hitting 18 or 19 shots in a row,” Kirch said.

McNary lost 80-29.

“Losing Justin hurt and then it sort of left us attacking from the perimeter,” Robinett said.

McDonald blamed a shortened and hectic week complicated by school getting canceled amidst flooding concerns for the team’s out-of-sync play.

Doutt led scoring with nine points, McDonald added five, Robinett and Goff contributed four apiece, Brandon Lao had three points, and Grant Fletchall and McHugh had two points each.

On the whole, Kirch was relieved that the team responded to the Sprague loss with a win over McKay.

“With a young team, it’s always two steps forward and one step back, and we didn’t end up taking two steps back,” he said.