By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary coaches knew it was just a matter of time before 6-foot-6 junior Boston Smith had his coming out party.

Feeding him in the post, Smith finished with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Celtics defeated West Salem 61-54 on Friday, Jan. 5.

“This is a big night for me,” Smith said. “I just think the energy helped me and the whole team score and lead us to victory.”

Smith scored McNary’s first two baskets of the game and added six more points in the final three minutes of the second quarter as the Celtics led 32-29 at halftime.

Smith scored six more points in the third quarter, including a dunk to give McNary a 42-36 lead with 2:53 remaining.

“You saw tonight an energy out of him that we’ve been waiting for,” Celtics head coach Ryan Kirch said. “It’s like a sleeping giant. It was so great to see tonight. I know he was nervous before the game. We’ve just got to give him confidence. We think he can do great things. Sometimes he’s just got to trust that and we want to keep feeding him the ball and keep giving him confidence.”

West Salem took its first lead since the first quarter on a 3-pointer to go ahead 49-48 with 5:44 remaining in the game. Trailing 53-50, McNary senior Lucas Garvey knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game with 3:10 left to play.

Andrew Jones made two free throws to give the Celtics the lead for good, 55-54, with 1:59 remaining.

“We knew they were going to go on runs,” said Jones, who was 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. “They’ve got shooters. They’ve got really good players and we just knew we had to stick together and keep playing our game. It’s a just a big confidence booster because we knew we could compete with some of the best teams in the state and I think it just reassures that we know we can play with anyone.”

McNary went 8-for-8 from the free throw line down the stretch while West Salem was 1-for-4, twice missing the front end of a one-and-one.

“I love coaching but games like this is when I miss playing,” Kirch said. “They just embraced the moment. They’re having a lot of fun and it’s great to see.”

West Salem is one of McNary’s biggest rivals.

“There’s always been a conflict between us,” Jones said. “We don’t like them and they don’t like us and we knew they were good and we’ve been good so it’s just always been a battle.”

Jones finished with 12 points, three rebounds and two assists. Garvey added 15 points, two rebounds and two assists. Chandler Cavell had 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Riccardo Gardelli was the only other Celtic to score, adding five points to go along with seven rebounds.

The win was McNary’s fourth in a row since knocking off previously undefeated Tualatin on Dec. 27.

“I’m so happy and proud and excited of our team,” Kirch said. “We just literally every day and every game are getting better and better and better. I think we’ve developed into a really good basketball team. We defend really, really well. We’ve got a lot of different scoring options.”

The Celtics host McKay on Tuesday, Jan. 9 at 6:45 p.m.