By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
Before the season, McNary boys basketball coach Ryan Kirch said, “Scoring won’t be an issue for us.”
That wasn’t just coach speak.
After blowing out Grants Pass 81-34 on the road Friday, Dec. 2, the Celtics throttled Oregon City 85-54 at home on Tuesday, Dec. 6 to start the season 2-0.
“A lot of our guys can really shoot the ball so we’re tough to guard,” Kirch said. “When we give up a good pass knowing it may not be my night, I may get two (points) tonight and 18 tomorrow, that’s just so difficult to guard and prepare for. Buying into that and understanding it’s for the good of the group, and our guys have done that. A lot of that is attribute to their leadership, a bunch of veteran guys who have been around a little bit and they want to enjoy the heck out of their senior year.”
Easton Neitzel was the star Friday night. The senior went 5-for-8 from behind the 3-point arc to finish with 26 points along with eight rebounds.
Alex Martin went 5-for-5 from the floor to add 10 points, six rebounds and four assists. Cade Goff had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.
As a team, McNary shot 33-for-45 from the field, made six of nine 3-pointers and was 11-for-12 from the free throw line.
“We’re very skilled individually and the guys are very unselfish,” Kirch said. “Guys are making extra passes. Our shooting percentage is pretty high because we’re taking good, fundamentally sound, balanced shots.”
The Celtics never trailed Tuesday. After winning the tip, Matthew Ismay threw a perfect bounce pass to Neitzel who laid it up to give McNary a quick 2-0 lead.
The Celtics led 11-1 before Oregon City answered with a pair of 3-pointers to get within 12-10. The Pioneers knocked down another 3-pointer to tie the game at 16-16.
Leading just 25-24 early in the second quarter, McNary closed the first half on a 16-5 run to enter halftime up 41-29.
“We called the timeout and had a real spirited one-way conversation that kind of lit a fire under the guys a little bit,” Kirch said. “With guys like this that’s about all it takes for them to get back engaged and check right back in to where they needed to be and I thought we played very selfless offensively.”
With 18 points, Ismay led the scoring effort as the Celtics continued to stretch their lead in the second half up to 62-44 heading to the fourth quarter.
“We had a good start and we were ready and we lost energy a little bit,” Ismay said. “We were up 11-1 and we have to not let them back in the game when we get a lead like that because I think we just lost energy and thought it might be an easy game or something but we need to play harder.”
Cade Goff and Adam Harvey each had 17 points. Chandler Cavell added 16 off the bench.
Through two games, McNary is averaging 83 points. To compare, the Celtics only scored 80 or more points once last season in a 102-70 win over McKay.
“We have more guys that can score all over the court,” Ismay said. “We’re a lot more veteran overall this year. Today, we got a ton of points in the paint.”
As happy as Kirch is with McNary’s offense, the team has work to do on defense.
“The win part is great. For us, I think we’re more concerned with the process of how we get there,” Kirch said. “We’ve got a veteran group here and they’ll tell you right now we certainly didn’t play to the best of our ability tonight. We didn’t defend or rebound nearly the way we wanted to. Defensively wasn’t championship level, not playing the scoreboard but playing possession, I didn’t think our communication was as good as it could’ve been and our awareness of who was shooting the ball.”
The Celtics open league play Friday, Dec. 9 at West Albany. McNary swept the Bulldogs last season, winning by a combined score of 129-80.
“Watching them on film the other day, they look a little more athletic than they’ve been in the past,” Kirch said. “I anticipate they’re going to give us a fight. Any time you go on the road, it’s a difficult place to play. The crowd creates a lot of energy. We’ll need to come out and control the game from the get-go.”