By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
A 62-28 win over McMinnville High School Friday, Feb. 13, was a display of just how much the McNary High School girls varsity basketball team has grown in recent weeks.
When the two teams met a little more than three weeks ago, the Grizzlies gave the Celts a run for their money that ended in a 47-30 final score. This time around, after the opening minutes, the Lady Celts clamped down defensively to create long runs leaving McMinnville in the dust.
“It shows in the games that everyone has been playing at a higher level,” said Madi Hingston, a McNary junior. “We’ve been working hard on our game plans in practice and knowing who the shooters are and getting to them.”
McNary’s Kaelie Flores kept McNary afloat, scoring a tying basket and the go-head one in the third minute of the game. A three-pointer by Madi Hingston, her first of four for the night, stretched the McNary lead to four and the Grizzles only threatened once more.
Hingston has strung together several outstanding nights on offense in recent weeks. She said the change was a result of personal and collective efforts.
“I realized that I needed to start being more aggressive, but it also has a lot to do with team and everyone pushing each other,” she said.
Midway through the first quarter, McMinnville went up 8-7, but then the Lady Celts went on an 18-point unanswered run that spanned the first and second periods. By the halftime buzzer, McNary was up 36-11.
The Celtic dominance continued the rest of the game, and the team emptied its bench with three minutes left to play en route to the 62-28 final score.
Hingston led the team with 16 points and six assists. Flores and Sydney Hunter had 13 points apiece; Kailey Doutt put up six; Jaylene Montano had five; Paige Downer drained a trey less than 30 seconds after hitting the court; Jasmine Ernest, Emma Jones and Lauren Hudgins had two points each.
On Tuesday, Feb. 10, the Celtics doled out a 59-36 loss to West Salem High School. The Titans jumped out to a 5-1 start, but McNary took the lead 13-7 by the end of the first frame.
The Titans only managed to outscore the Celts in the third period, but McNary already had a runaway lead.
“With both teams and we knew we had to come out strong,” Hingston said.
Hingston led all scoring with 15 points; Hunter had 13; Vanessa Hayes put in 12; Kailey Doutt had seven; Flores and Ernest had four each; and Montano and Hudgins each drained one from the paint.