Celt Alex Martin faces down a North Salem High School player in the game Tuesday, Jan. 26. The Celts won 61-34, but it was the team’s only win of the past three games. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Celt Alex Martin faces down a North Salem High School player in the game Tuesday, Jan. 26. The Celts won 61-34, but it was the team’s only win of the past three games. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Forest Grove High School’s boys varsity basketball team stunned the Celtics with a 59-51 win Friday, Jan. 29.

“It was good to have a couple of days off after it happened,” said Trent Van Cleave, a McNary senior. “We’re all right, and it may help us in the long run.”

The loss to the Vikings, coupled with a 53-52 loss to South Salem High School Tuesday, Feb. 2, means the Celtic path to sharing the league championship is now in the hands of others, and more than a little unlikely. The Saxons would have to lose three of their remaining games and McNary would have to win out the season.

To be sure, the Celts gave the Saxons a run for their money. McNary trailed 15-6 after one quarter and had only just begun to chip away at the lead by halftime. In the third quarter, the Celts rallied and outscored South 18-11 to take a 39-38 lead.

With the score achingly close, South outshot McNary 15-13 in the final period to take the win.

In the game with Forest Grove, the Celtics had things going their way through three quarters. McNary leapt out to a 14-4 lead after the first frame and was ahead 46-35 at the top of the fourth quarter.

“In the first half, we were being the aggressors, then we stopped and let (Forest Grove) pick the tempo,” Van Cleave said.

The Vikings caught fire and began shooting out the lights in the fourth quarter.

Celt Alex Martin said part of the blame fell on Celtic shoulders.

“Being tentative led to turnovers and fastbreak points for them,” said Martin.

At the final buzzer, the Vikings had outshot the Celts 24-5 for the quarter and walked away with the win.

Forest Grove’s spark caught the Keizer team off-guard, said Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach.

“That put us on our heels and suddenly we were playing not-to-lose as opposed to playing to win,” Kirch said. “We didn’t execute in half court the way we needed to and I could have switched things up a bit more defensively.”

McNary senior Harry Cavell led the team with 18 points in the game. Van Cleave had 11.

Earlier in the week, the Celts were able to field its entire roster in a 61-32 win over North Salem High School. McNary hosted the game Tuesday, Jan. 26.

“Our defense really set the tone by holding them in the early part of the game,” Martin said.

Mathew Ismay led the game with 13 points, H. Cavell had 11, Van Cleave had 10, Martin had seven, Easton Neitzel had six, Hayden Sader and Wyatt Grine had four each, and Ryan Schneider, Adam Harvey and Cade Goff had two apiece.