By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
When the McNary High School girls varsity basketball team headed into games with Parkrose and Roseburg high schools last week, Head Coach Paul Pickerell hoped the games would give the Lady Celts opportunities to work on their press break.
Those plans didn’t pan out as the Celts dominated in a 52-31 win over Parkrose and had to claw their way back in the 66-50 loss with Roseburg.
“When Roseburg did press us, we did a good job of being patient and had no problems getting the ball up the court. In both games, we did a good job with our transition offense and getting good shots up,” Pickerell said.
Despite the lopsided score in the Parkrose game, Pickerell felt the Keizer team was capable of more.
“We played down to the competition. We still won by 21, but our execution on offense and defense just wasn’t sharp all game,” Pickerell said.
By halftime, McNary had a commanding 30-16 lead and rode it to the win even though the offensive output didn’t match the first half.
Reina Strand led the team with 15 points, Baili Keeton had nine, Ashlee Koenig had had five, Jasmine Ernest, Kaelie Flores and Sydney Hunter had four apiece, Emma Jones and Jaylene Montano had three each, Madi Hingston and Anna Von Bremmen had two apiece, and Alyx Peterson hit one from the foul line.
In the Roseburg game, Flores’ attack off the boards helped the team stay within arm’s length of the Indians. The Lady Celts got as close as six points away in the second half.
“Kaelie was a beast on the boards and pulled down double-digit rebounds for the third time in four games,” Pickerell said. “The effort in the Roseburg game was outstanding throughout much of the game and the girls made significant strides forward despite the loss.”
A pair of 14-point quarters gave Roseburg a 28-15 lead going into the second half. McNary hung close to the Indians’ output in the third and fourth quarters, but never overcame the gap.
Strand had 13 points, Keeton had 12, Hingston notched 11 on a late-gate spurt, Ernest had seven points, Hunter had four points, Koenig had three, and Flores had two. The Celts also drained five three-point goals. Hingston and Keeton had two each and Ernest had one.
After the Christmas holiday, the Lady Celts will head to the Nike Interstate Shootout in Lake Oswego.
“Our goals for the Shootout are to play four games the way we want to play: high energy, players executing, and getting good looks at the basket while making the other team take tough shots,” Pickerell said. “It’s a great tournament to get used to the state tournament format of playing games on multiple nights so that’s always an emphasis.”