By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary boys basketball coach Ryan Kirch said Chandler Cavell and Lucas Garvey could have started on most teams last season.

In the 2017-18 opener, the two McNary seniors began proving it as Cavell poured in 23 points and Garvey added 16 as the Celtics defeated Grants Pass 68-54 on Thursday, Nov. 30.

“I’ve been waiting all year for this. I love it. I’m so excited,” Cavell said. “My teammates ran the lanes and got me open. They’re the reason I got open so much and just staying aggressive.”

Cavell scored the first basket of the season a little over a minute into the game but McNary fell behind 8-7 with two minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The Celtics then got a spark form its bench as Griffin Oliveira knocked down a 3 and Boston Smith scored in the paint to give McNary the lead for good.

“Griffin, I thought his energy tonight was really good,” Kirch said. “He’s a competitor so he wasn’t scared. Boston, you can just see his potential.”

Garvey made his second 3 of the game to stretch the lead to 27-19 with 3:43 remaining in the second quarter but Grants Pass kept attacking and the Celtics went into halftime with a narrow 32-28 advantage.

“The first game is always a little rough,” Kirch said. “For these guys who played varsity in the summer for the first time, it’s different. You could see some nerves. We were pretty ugly there in the first half.”

Two quick baskets by Cavell and Garvey stretched the lead back to eight.

“We really came together in some key moments and moved the ball around when we needed to,” Garvey said.

McNary went into the fourth quarter up 53-43.

“In the second half, we made a few adjustments and emphasized what our original plan was,” Kirch said. “I thought out spacing was really poor, particularity in transition and we weren’t as aggressive as we wanted to be. We did more of what we were trying to do in the second half.”

The Celtics didn’t attempt a free throw in the first half. They went 11-for-14 from behind the line in the second.

“It wasn’t because the officials weren’t calling fouls,” Kirch said. “We weren’t aggressive. We always want to have a take it to the rim mentality and then kick it out for 3s. We settled for just a lot of one pass 3s and we didn’t make them (Grants Pass) guard in the first half.”

The Cavemen also shot more free throws in the second half, making 11 of 16 to remain in the game.

“We were tired but made mental mistakes, too,” Kirch said. “We acknowledge it and our kids see that. We’ve just got to get better.”

Kirch played 10 different guys with eight getting in the scorer’s book.

Senior guard Andrew Jones had eight points. Noah Hudkins added six points and eight rebounds in the post.

“Noah’s done a really good job for us,” Kirch said. “He’s very smart. He’s not real flashy but he’s effective. He made a real nice tip pass on an offensive rebound. For the most part he was able to play without fouling. He shoots a high percentage. In fact, we probably need to get him the ball a little bit more. I was really pleased with the way he played.”

The Celtics play at Oregon City on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. and then open Greater Valley Conference play at home on Friday, Dec. 8 against West Albany at 5:45 p.m.