By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

When Elizabeth Doran was named McNary’s head girls basketball coach in April, one former player reached out, making it clear she wanted to return and help the program.

After four years at Oregon State University, including a Final Four run in 2016, and then four months playing professionally in Puerto Rico and another four in Finland, Deven Hunter now sits right next to Doran on the McNary bench.

Along with assisting the varsity team, Hunter is also the junior varsity head coach.

“Right when the coaching job came up, I wanted to be with the program either as a head coach or being an assistant,” said Hunter, who played AAU ball at Oregon Elite with Doran’s younger sister.

“It feels amazing to be back. I always wanted to come back and help. If I started a coaching career, this is a place I wanted to get back to. It’s definitely different than playing but it’s really rewarding getting to teach and help kids learn and fall in love with the game.”

Making sure the girls have fun is Hunter’s top priority.

“High school is supposed to be fun,” Hunter said. “Winning is important and I know all my girls love to win but being able to learn and take it step by step and enjoy the process while you’re here.”

The Lady Celts have done plenty of winning as well, opening the season 7-0.

Hunter, who is also working at the high school as an instruction assistant in the Emotional Growth Center, graduated from McNary in 2012. She averaged 18 points and 11.6 rebounds per game her senior season, leading the Lady Celts to fourth place in the state tournament.

At OSU, Hunter finished her career with 893 rebounds, good for fourth in Lady Beavers history.

“She had a lot of really cool experiences in college and played for a great coach (Scott Rueck),” Doran said.

“It’s just awesome to have another really good basketball mind on the bench to turn to. She always has good stuff to say to the girls at practice and before the game, after the game, halftime. It’s awesome having her around.”