By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
When Matthew Ismay and Cade Goff cracked the McNary varsity lineup as freshmen four years ago, the Celtics were coming off two of the worst seasons of any basketball team in the state.
In the two seniors final regular season home game, McNary suffocated the No. 4 ranked team in the OSAA power rankings, West Salem, 61-47, on Friday, Feb. 17.
“This senior group has changed my six years here from where the program was, where we were the worst team in the state,” Celtics head coach Ryan Kirch said. “I told them before the game, 15 years doing this, this is my favorite group I’ve coached. I’m just so happy for them. It was an awesome night.”
The evening started with a recognition of McNary’s six seniors, which along with Ismay and Goff, includes Adam Harvey, Easton Neitzel, Alex Martin and Kevin Martin.
“I was sitting in the locker room before the game and it’s crazy how fast four years actually goes by,” Ismay said. “It was great tonight. We had a lot of fans, a great atmosphere. It was a good game to end on.”
With 2:30 remaining in the first quarter, Chandler Cavell broke a 4-4 tie. Alex Martin then knocked down a 3-pointer and the Celtics rolled from there as Harvey scored five straight points to extend McNary’s lead to 14-4. Cavell closed the first quarter with five more points as the Celtics led 19-7 at the end of the first quarter, which grew to 33-14 by halftime.
“Our kids are tough,” Kirch said. “Instead of worrying too much about game planning, we decided we’re just going to get down and try to make somebody beat us. We simplified it a little bit and our guys just did a great job. Just toughed up, got in a stance and guarded them.”
McNary extended its lead to 45-23 heading into the fourth quarter. With a minute remaining, West Salem got within 55-44 as the Celtics got sloppy with the ball.
McNary scored the final four points of the game on a fast break dunk by Goff and a layup from Martin.
“This is probably, with the exception of the last four minutes of the game, as good as we’ve played all year,” Kirch said. “We came out right from the get go and we think we’re a top 10 team in the state, and we just really put it on West and I just couldn’t be more proud of them and just happy for them on senior night like this at home.”
Ismay led the Celtics with 19 points. Harvey finished with 12. Cavell had 10, all in the first half off the bench, and Goff added nine.
McNary closes the regular season Tuesday, Feb. 21 at McMinnville. The first round of the state tournament is the following Tuesday, Feb. 28.