By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
With a bit of luck, and even more focus moving forward, the McNary High School boys varsity basketball team will remember its loss to Tualatin High School as the one that got away.
The Celtics faced the Timberwolves on the road Tuesday, Dec. 9, and narrowly missed getting their third win. Tualatin edged McNary 60-54.
“All of us would say we didn’t have a very good game. Our shooting was terrible and so was our finishing,” said senior Tregg Peterson.
The Celts were outshot 17-7 in the first quarter and the trouble started after the tip-off.
“We had a turnover on our first possession out of the gate and we were fighting back the whole time,” said sophomore Cade Goff. Goff led the team on the scoreboard with 13 points.
The next three quarters saw the team gain ground on Tualatin with a 15-11 third quarter being the best of the night for McNary, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the gap.
“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot knowing they had a couple of guys who can shoot and we didn’t take care of them. One of their guys hit five three pointers in the first half,” said senior Devon Dunagan.
Goff said the Timberwolves also hit a lot of free throws late in the game that helped them to the win. Dunagan had nine points and 10 rebounds against Tualatin; Peterson had nine points; Harry Cavell had seven; and Mathew Ismay put in two.
Despite the loss, Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach, said the team bounced back in the next two practices.
“To a one, they were all willing to own the fact that they probably should have beaten Tualatin and they came back wanting to make sure it didn’t happen again,” Kirch said.
The team’s follow-up game saw it hosting West Albany High School Friday, Dec. 12.
Playing quick on offense and even quicker on defense, McNary rapidly ran up a 25-15 lead in the first frame.
“We started offense with defense and got a lot transition points because of it,” Peterson said.
The Celts were up by 20 points at the half and never let the Bulldogs closer than 14 by the final buzzer. McNary won 67-53.
“We came out the first quarter and did what we wanted to do and our 1-3-1 zone was a lot stronger than it was against Tualatin,” Dunagan said.
Kirch said having five players averaging eight points or more per game is making it difficult for other teams to defend against the Celtics.
Dunagan led the team with 15 points; Trent Van Cleave had 13; Peterson and Goff had 11 points each; Cavell had nine; Ismay had six; and Cole Thomas knocked down two from the foul line.
“We have to keep getting those assists and pushing the ball like we have been because it’s working out well,” Goff said.
As part of the team’s roaring start to the season, Dunagan was named Athlete of the Week by the Salem Sports and Breakfast Club two weeks ago and the team was settling into the top 10 in OSAA rankings. McNary was No. 10 at press time.
“We’ve come a long way since four years ago when I was watching my brother play his freshman year,” Goff said. “It shows all the hard work our coaches have put in and it’s really helped the program.”
McNary faces Forest Grove High School in its last conference game Friday, Dec. 19, before heading into winter break. Game time is 7:15 p.m. at Forest Grove.