By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
After two weeks of narrow misses against undefeated teams, the McNary High School girls varsity basketball team was ready for a win in a big way.
Unfortunately for the North Salem High School Vikings on Tuesday, Dec. 16, they were the victims. In the second Greater Valley Conference contest of the season, McNary routed North 70-18.
“We had a chance to give the whole bench solid minutes. By getting the eighth, ninth, and 10th players long runs it has helped us deepen our bench play,” said Derick Handley, McNary head coach.
Every single Lady Celt put points on the board in the game, but it was a result of spirit-crushing defensive work.
“With our pressure we were able to get some easy baskets early, which only increased our intensity as the game went along,” Handley said.
The girls made good on the promise of that win with a 47-38 win over Forest Grove High School. It was the most complete-team effort of the season, Handley said.
“Forest Grove was the first team we’ve seen play predominately man-to-man, so that was a bit of an adjustment for us. Their pressure got to us a little early, but the girls made great adjustments and took care of the ball for the final three-and-a-half quarters. It was also the first game this season where we didn’t settle for outside jump shots and were willing to attack the basket,” he said.
Building the confidence to move in closer to the net has been high on Handley’s agenda since the season began, but the Lady Celts’ early opponents often crowded out the McNary players.
“We made (Forest Grove) work for every basket. I liked how aggressive we were on offense and hopefully that carries over into our winter break games,” Handley said.
McNary will travel to Bend December 27-29 for a tournament at Bend High School.
“We’ll be playing some very talented teams so it’s just another chance for us the get some experience in an atmosphere similar to the playoffs. We play the defending 5A state champions in Willamette in the first round, and could possibly play the current No. 1 5A team in La Salle. Competition will be great, so it’s another opportunity for us to see where we are and try to get better,” Handley said.