Lady Celt Teresa Peterson takes it to the hoop in a game with McKay. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School girls varsity basketball held on to its second-place standing in the Central Valley Conference last week with dominating wins over North Salem and Sprague high schools.

“We were executing well and working well as a team and we’d press a lot, work on plays that needed some extra time,” said Celt Averi Wing.

The Lady Celts beat the Vikings 71-27 and the Olys 66-33.

McNary traveled to take on North Salem and stifled the Viking offense while running up their own tally en route to the win.

“We were shooting well and putting pressure on them defensively that forced their decisions,” said McNary’s Deven Hunter.

McNary was putting junior varsity players on the court by the second period.

“It gave us an opportunity to tweak things like the full court press and got a lot of experience for all of our kids to get out on the court and work in different combinations,” said Molly Gehley, McNary head coach.

Hunter racked up 29 points and 11 rebounds in McNary’s win over Sprague Friday, Feb. 3.

The Olys stayed within five points of the Celtics in the first period, but McNary poured in 46 points to Sprague’s 17 over the next two periods to seal the victory.

“We came out pretty strong in both games and we were really working on pressing and different defenses. The challenge with games like those are that it’s easy to lose focus,” said Celt Stacey Titchenal.

Jessica Darras added 14 points to McNary’s total, Titchenal put in seven, Wing added four, Baili Keeton, Caitlin Tartak, Teresa Peterson, Ashlee Koenig, Madson Rohl and Lauren Hudgins had two points apiece. As a team, the Lady Celts grabbed 32 rebounds in the outing.

McNary had games on tap with McKay and South Salem high schools. Titchenal said maintaining focus in practices while the weather outside is spring-like would be essential to keeping pace with league-leading West Salem High School.

‘We can’t underestimate McKay, and we have to bring the same intensity that we brought with South Salem the first time around,” Wing said.

If the Celts close the season unscathed, it would likely set up a rematch with the Titans to determine seeding heading into the state playoffs. Last year, McNary lost to West twice before pulling out a victory in the tournament.

“They will go into it thinking they’ve beaten us, but they underestimate our ability to improve as the season goes and plus we’re the ones with the motivation to win,” Titchenal said.

The team will spend the week tying up loose ends in preparation for the tournament, Gehley said.

“I’m proud of our growth as a team and how they play well together. Their basketball knowledge has grown so much over the last couple of years and that’s them trying to be students of the game,” she said.