By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
McNary looked more like the team coming off a night off than the one playing the second game of a back-to-back as the Celtics turned a one-point halftime deficit into a 75-55 victory over Sprague on Saturday, Jan. 14.
“I think we scored a lot more in transition in the second half,” said McNary senior Matthew Ismay, who had 17 points, five rebounds and eight assists in the win. “They got a little bit tired and we had a lot more good cuts and passes.”
The first half was back-and-forth. After an 11-11 tie at the end of the first quarter, the Celtics led 28-23 with two minutes remaining in the first half before Sprague closed the second quarter with six straight points.
But McNary quickly took control in the second half, opening the third quarter on an 11-2 run. By the end of the period, the Celtics led 51-41 as Adam Harvey knocked down a 3-pointer. McNary continued to pad its lead in the final quarter, outscoring the Olympians 24-14.
Wearing down Sprague, who didn’t play Friday because of snow in Forest Grove, was the Celtics plan all along.
“We knew in the final minutes we would out pace them so we tried to pick up the pace a little bit,” McNary head coach Ryan Kirch said. “We talked to our guys about just feeling comfortable getting up and down the floor because that’s what we do best.”
The Celtics also had to defend Sprague forward Teagan Quitoriano, a 6-7 junior who entered the contest averaging more than 32 points per game. McNary held him to 10.
“I thought we did a nice job defensively trying to take Teagan out of the game,” Kirch said. “We got him frustrated, got him tired, just like we wanted.”
Ismay, two-time Greater Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, was tasked with guarding Teagan.
“He’s really strong,” Ismay said. “We try to keep him out of the paint because if he gets in the paint, it’s over. We just tried to make it as hard as possible on him.”
After holding Sprague to just 55 points and defeating McMinnville 65-44 on Friday, Jan. 13, Kirch was happy with the entire team’s play on defense.
“I’m really pleased with our team defense right now,” he said. “We’re working really, really hard. To hold a 6A basketball team into the 40s, that’s just the difference between us and some other teams. We can score it but to be able to play at the next level you have to really be able to defend.”
McNary had 27 assists against Sprague. Cade Goff finished with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Harvey had 16 points, six rebounds and three assists. Easton Neitzel added 14 points, three rebounds and four assists.
With 17 points, five rebounds and four assists, Harvey led the Celtics against McMinnville. Ismay had 14 points, three rebounds and five assists. Neitzel added 16 points.
“We’ve got such tough kids and I’m really so proud of them,” Kirch said. “Our team has really developed into what we’ve envisioned, which is a player-led team, not a coach-led team. We are such a veteran group that they can kind of pace themselves a little bit. They can hold each other accountable and I’ll ask them what they see and if they see certain things, I trust their judgment on the floor. We’ve grown. I’m really happy where we’re at so far.”