Lady Celt Vanessa Hayes puts up a shot under heavy coverage in the girls varsity basketball game with Sprague High School Friday, Jan. 9. (Photo courtesy J&H Photo)

Lady Celt Vanessa Hayes puts up a shot under heavy coverage in the girls varsity basketball game with Sprague High School Friday, Jan. 9. (Photo courtesy J&H Photo)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

McNary High School’s girls varsity basketball team won one and lost one last week, both by wide margins.

The Lady Celts (3-2 in the Greater Valley Conference) lost to South Salem High School 63-32 Tuesday, Jan. 6, and thumped Sprague High School 68-12 three days later.

In regard to the South game, Head Coach Derick Handley said the tone was set early on.

“Their game plan was to jump on us and put us down early and that’s what they did,” Handley said.

The Keizer team was down 17-2 after the first frame. Even though McNary outscored the Saxons 14-13 in the second period, it was already too little too late.

“We did a good job of breaking their press, but the rebounding killed us that game,” said McNary’s Sydney Hunter, who had seven points against the Saxons. “We went in with a good mindset, but we got nervous right away.”

Junior Madi Hingston put up more than a third of the Celtics’ points with 12; Kaelie Flores had seven; and Kailey Doutt put in six.

“It was really a matter of them capitalizing on every transition and that hurt our confidence,” Hingston said. “When we got out in the game with Sprague on Friday, I think we took out a lot of aggression on them.”

Despite the lopsided 68-12 score, Handley thought the team was capable of more in the first half against the Olys.

“We had a lot of communication break downs, and a lot of plays when we weren’t in the right spot,” he said. “We’ve told them all year, we’ll take a good game played well and a loss over a game played poorly and a win any day.”

To the Celts’ credit, adjustments made at halftime helped to limit Sprague to four points in the second half.

“We got a lot of deflections and steals and just kind of took over,” Hingston said.

Hunter said it was a matter of consistent attitude as well.

“We ran the floor and didn’t let our intensity fall,” Hunter said. “It might not look like a struggle in the score, but we did have more turnovers in the first half than we would have liked.”

Hunter led Celt scoring with 17 points; Flores and Hingston had 14 points each. Jasmine Ernest had seven; Doutt had six; Emma Jones and Vanessa Hayes had four each; and Jaylene Montano put in two.

The girls traveled to meet perennial rival West Salem High School Tuesday, Jan. 13. A win over the Titans would put the two teams in a deadlock for third place in the conference.

“They’ll put pressure on us and we can’t risk unforced errors and turnovers,” Handley said. “If we can beat their press and keep our heads on the swivel, we can get their backdoor cuts.”