By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
SALEM—McNary suffered its first loss of the season in the Capitol City Classic.
But that doesn’t mean the tournament wasn’t a success.
After falling to Mater Dei, a Catholic school in southern California, 64-60 on Wednesday, Dec. 21, the Celtics rebounded to defeat Evergreen, Wash. 80-42 on Thursday and then knocked off Thurston 60-46 Friday at Willamette University.
McNary had its chances against Mater Dei, who went on to defeat West Salem 53-50 to win the Capitol City Classic. The Celtics trailed by just one point with two minutes to go.
“It was a hell of a game,” McNary head coach Ryan Kirch said. “They are a powerhouse team out of San Diego. Our kids played really, really physical. It was back and forth. They’ve got multiple college players on their team. I thought our kids played well. We missed a couple free throws. We had one or two turnovers in tough spots. We played toe to toe with them. I told our kids afterwards I was really proud of how hard they played. They didn’t back down from anybody. Sometimes you just tip your hat to the opponent and that was the case.”
With 14 points and four assists, Matthew Ismay led McNary in the loss. Alex Martin had 10 points, four assists and four rebounds.
“It was a battle,” said Cade Goff, who added 13 points, four assists and four rebounds. “I think we responded well and it was a really good test. They’re a talented team with a lot of guys who can do a lot of things and we matched them. I think moving forward in those situations and those games, we’ll be on top next time.”
After a back-and-forth first quarter against Evergreen, the second period turned into a free throw contest with the Celtics going 7-for-7 from the line and the Plainsmen making five of 10 attempts.
Playing with more energy in the second half, McNary quickly extended its lead from 36-21 to 47-21 midway through the third quarter. A Goff putback at the buzzer then gave the Celtics a commanding 62-32 lead heading to the fourth.
“I think we just came in, talked at half and realized the one thing we were probably lacking the most is energy,” said Goff, who finished with 17 points and five rebounds against Evergreen. “Especially being a tournament atmosphere, we don’t have a lot of fans or a packed crowd with a bunch of students. I think that was a major key. We had to come out with our own energy.”
Adam Harvey had 17 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Ismay added 14 points, five rebounds and seven assists. Easton Neitzel was also in double digits with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists.
“We’ve got to create our own energy,” Kirch said. “I thought we were a little calm early on, a little passive. Then once the ball got rolling a little bit, you saw us play the way we’re accustomed to playing.”
Chandler Cavell gave McNary a spark off the bench against Thurston, going 8-for-9 from the free throw line to finish with 15 points. Ismay had 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Harvey had 13 points, six rebounds and two assists. Lucas Garvey added 12 points.
The Celtics began play in the Oregon Holiday Hoopfest at Summit High School in Bend on Wednesday. The tournament runs through Friday.
“It’s all about having fun,” Kirch said. “We’re pretty serious with game plans and all that but the tournament atmosphere is a lot of fun.”
McNary then returns to Greater Valley Conference play on Tuesday, Jan. 3. The Celtics host Forest Grove at 6:45 p.m.