By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
SALEM—Still looking for a second scorer behind Sydney Hunter, the last thing McNary needed was the University of San Diego-bound senior to get in foul trouble.
But with 1:42 remaining in the first quarter, Hunter picked up her third foul and was forced to the bench. To make matters worse, Kailey Doutt, the reigning Greater Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, got her second foul just over three minutes into the game.
The foul trouble was too much for McNary to overcome as the Lady Celts lost at West Salem 58-46 on Friday, Jan. 6.
“It’s on us if we don’t adjust,” MHS head coach Derrick Handley said.
“The natural reaction as players on the floor are to turn and try to point the finger at somebody else but they (referees) called it consistent. They were the same the entire time. We didn’t adjust to it. That’s on our players. That’s on our coaches. We tried to talk about that at halftime and we did a little bit better job in the second half as far as not fouling as much. You’ve got to find the line between still being aggressive but not fouling. It was our fault. We didn’t make the change quick enough, obviously.”
McNary trailed just 11-9 with 2:20 remaining in the first quarter before the Lady Titans scored nine straight, which included going 6-for-6 from the free throw line.
A basket by McNary junior Paige Downer just before the end of the first quarter got the Lady Celts within 20-11.
Despite her two fouls, Doutt started the second quarter, even continuing to guard West Salem’s leading scorer—Delaney Henery.
“Defensively, obviously we need Kailey in the game at all times,” Handley said. “Some of that’s (fouling) not on her. We didn’t help on the backside so every time that she drove, she felt the need to try to stay in front and do everything she could because if she didn’t nobody was there. It was a team issue as well.”
With Hunter sitting out the entire second quarter, Doutt was also forced to lead on the offensive end, scoring five points in the period before receiving her third foul and going to the bench herself with 1:47 remaining in the first half.
“Everybody is always looking to Sydney. Everybody is always looking to Kailey,” Handley said. “Unfortunately, even when they’re not in, they’re still looking for them and it just doesn’t work that way. We sort of figured out in the second quarter. We started getting a little more aggressive.”
McNary sophomore guard Anita Lao came off the bench to score on back-to-back possessions to get the Lady Celts within 29-23 with 2:30 remaining in the first half. Lao was then rewarded by starting the second half.
“I thought Anita did a great job stepping up for us,” Handley said. “She was the one girl who was playing the passing lanes and sparked us a little bit on offense and was aggressive.”
In the first half alone, the two teams combined to shoot 37 free throws. McNary was 10-for-15 from the line while West Salem went 16-for-22.
Jaylene Montano went 4-for-4 in the final minute but the Lady Celts trailed 36-27 at halftime.
Lao knocked down a 3-pointer to get the Lady Celts within 38-33 with six minutes to go in the third quarter. Downer then made a basket at the 2:38 mark to make the score 41-37 but McNary couldn’t get any closer to West Salem.
Even sitting out an entire quarter and fouling out with 53 seconds remaining in the fourth, Hunter still led the Lady Celts with 12 points. Doutt and Lao both had eight. Downer and Montano each added seven.
“We’re still looking for anybody to be willing to attack,” Handley said. “And the big part for us is confidence and the mentality I can be a scorer, I can attack. Abby [Hawley] has done it at times this year but she’s only a sophomore and that’s not always one you want to rely on. Anita did it a little bit for us tonight, but again a sophomore.
“Jaylene’s had a couple of games where she’s been really confident and been willing to attack and then we’ve had other games where you don’t know if she’s on the floor or not. We’re just looking for some leadership, somebody to step up on the floor that’s not a Hunter.”
Finding another consistent scorer has taken longer than Handley expected.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “We’re trying.”
But Handley made it clear to his team that the season is still young. The game at West Salem was just the Lady Celts third in the GVC and only their second loss in league play.
“The message is still that nothing is lost,” he said. “It’s still early. A year ago we lost six games. I’m not saying we’re going to make a run and finish the season undefeated but I’m also saying nothing is over yet.”
McNary bounced back with a 71-22 win at home against McKay on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
Led by Hunter’s 19 points, four girls scored in double figures.
Doutt had 13 points. Lao provided 12 and Downer added 11 in the victory.
The Lady Celts are back home Friday, Jan. 13 at 5:45 against McMinnville.