By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The McNary High School girls varsity basketball team completed its first run through the Greater Valley Conference with a 53-34 win over McMinnville High School Friday, Jan. 22.
The Lady Celts are currently second in the GVC with a record of 7-1. South Salem was the only team to beat the Celts in the first round-robin, but Derick Handley, McNary head coach, doesn’t want the team resting on its laurels.
“I really hope that we don’t settle. I hope the girls aren’t satisfied with taking second in the league because our goals have been much bigger than that the entire season” Handley said.
With games on tap vs. North Salem and Forest Grove high schools before getting another shot at the Saxons, Celt senior Kaelie Flores said it’s difficult to not look past the next two games to the one on the horizon.
“We definitely have our eyes on South, but we can’t overlook North and Forest Grove. We have to work on ourselves in those games to be ready for (South),” Flores said.
Sophomore Kailey Doutt said there are still things for McNary’s team to improve upon in the run-up to the South game, which the Celts host Tuesday, Feb. 2.
“Our team defense has been a lot better, but we can get better in our offense and more consistent,” Doutt said.
If McNary beats the Saxons, the two teams will be tied for first in the GVC.
In the McMinnville game, the Celts led 16-4 after the first frame and pushed it to 24-11 by halftime.
“One of the things we wanted to work on was the zone and trapping press. That went well and we got a lot of turnovers and it got better as we went along,” said Doutt.
The Lady Celts held the Grizzlies to 10 points in the third quarter and six in the fourth to walk away with the win.
“The big thing was to make sure we were focused defensively and I thought the girls were phenomenal. Especially in the first quarter where McMinnville had trouble getting shots off let alone making any of them,” Handley said.
Flores said the team benefitted from only playing one game last week.
“It allowed us some time to heal, but Friday proved that we are getting better with every game,” she said.