By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary High School varsity basketball team rallied to a 52-48 win over West Salem High School in a game that decided third place in the Central Valley Conference tournament Wednesday, Feb. 26.
While it was a game that neither coaches nor players would point to as a best outing, the team did enough to get the job done, said Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach.
“We made some poor plays, had some bad passes and made some bad choices on shot selection, but we gutted ourselves to get to the second half and picked up our pressure,” Kirch said. “Cade Goff gave us great minutes all night.”
Goff, a freshman, finished with six points and a team-leading 11 rebounds.
The Titans led for much of the game, and by as much as 13 points, before the Celts regained their composure.
“We had 12 turnovers in the first half and that was a scare, but we came back in the second half. Tregg (Peterson) and Trent (Van Cleave) got a lot of steals and fast breaks that they didn’t respond to very well,” Goff said.
McNary got back into the game by turning up the pressure on defense and going on a 16-5 run to end the game.
“It wasn’t how we planned to win, but we had a lot of energy and a good crowd on-hand,” said Braden Taylor, a McNary senior.
The game was key for the Celts in a couple of ways. First, the win earned the Celtics a bye in the play-in round of the state tournament, its first since the play-ins became part of the playoff system. Second, it guaranteed the Keizer team (14-12), its first winning season in six years. The Celts had more wins this season than they did the last three combined.
Jonathan Doutt, a senior now, but starter on the varsity roster since his freshman year, has been one of the lynchpins for the team through the struggle, but said it was a team mentality that made the difference.
“Everyone bought in. Before we had a losing mental