Lady Celt Jessica Darras looks for a route around an opponent during a game last season. (KEIZERTIMES/File Photo)

Of the Keizertimes

The Lady Celts varsity basketball took on the Canby and Reynolds high school teams in their first games of the season and walked away with losses, but also knowing where they need to improve.

“We have to get better with our execution on shots and be more careful with the ball to limit our turnovers,” said McNary’s Jessica Darras. “There were a few moments when it felt like we were just throwing the ball away.”

McNary took on both teams as part of the South Eugene Tip-Off Tournament last week. The Celts hung with the Canby Cougars for the first half of the game and went into halftime trailing 34-28. The game took a turn for the worse as Canby outscored the Celtics 24-7 in the third period and rode the lead to a 75-51 win.

“We had trouble getting into our offense. Canby overplayed a lot of things and was really scrappy, making it was hard to set up a play and run it through,” said Celt Ashlee Koenig.

Lady Celt Teresa Peterson led all scorers with 26 points on the evening, Reina Strand put in eight points, Lauren Hudgins and Darras had five apiece, Jasmine Ernest had three and Aerial Rice and Baili Keeton chipped in two points each. Keeton also had five assists and Strand grabbed nine shots off the board.

“We were short a couple of players in the first game, but they rejoined us and made a positive impact on their return to the lineup in the second game,” said Paul Pickerell, McNary head coach.

The next day of the tournament the Celtics fell to Grants Pass High School 45-36, but the team seemed to find more of a flow on offense.

“We got into our offense and were communicating a lot better,” Koenig said. “Our defense was also pretty solid.”

It was a slow burn that did in McNary that day. The Celts only outscored Grants Pass in one quarter. Peterson notched a game-high six steals for the Celtics and Strand blocked four shots.

As the team moves forward, Pickerell said that shooting and turnover percentages were going to be areas of focus.

“We’re looking to continue to improve in our offensive execution and full court defense this week. The kids have been given a lot to learn in a short period of time and we just have to work through some of the growing pains,” he said.

Koenig hoped to see the team pick up the chatter on the court and figure out some of the chemistry that the team lacked during its opening salvos.

“I’m excited to get back into our offense and start being able to execute on transition the way we do in practices,” she said.