By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes
SALEM—McNary (16-5, 11-2) again showed it can win close games, defeating McKay 60-59 on Tuesday, Feb. 6.
The Celtics will need that fortitude down the stretch as they close the season against South Salem (Feb. 13), West Salem (Feb. 16) and McMinnville (Feb. 20).
“Every game from here on out, the next three plus the playoffs, is going to be a five or six point game,” McNary head coach Ryan Kirch. “We’ve just got to be consistent.”
The Celtics defeated all three opponents the first time through league play but needed double overtime at South Salem. West Salem is No. 9 in the OSAA power rankings after giving Sprague its first loss in league play on Tuesday night. McMinnville is 13th.
“We have three great games against three really good teams that all feel like they owe us a game so we’ll worry about ourselves over the next couple of days and our staff and I will look at South Salem,” Kirch said. “South Salem gave us fits. We were lucky to come out on the end of it. It was a tough matchup.”
McNary is fifth in the power rankings and must remain in the top eight to host two playoff games.
“We’ve just got to come focused to practice everyday, ready to work, not have any mental lapses, and be prepared,” McNary senior Chandler Cavell said. “I think West Albany, McKay and Forest Grove, the first time we played them we blew them all out and then the second time it was within five at the end of the game. We’ve just got to be ready to grind one out again, just like we did tonight.”
The Celtics fell behind 14-12 in the first quarter as McKay, one of the highest scoring teams in the state, slowed down the pace of play.
“Their game plan was obviously to slow it down,” Kirch said. “Give them credit, they did a really good job.”
Adjusting to the tempo, McNary began to take control in the second period and led 31-24 at halftime after a Riccardo Gardelli three-point play at the buzzer.
An Andrew Jones 3-pointer stretched McNary’s lead to 36-24 early in the third quarter but back-to-back 3’s by McKay senior Andre Tovar got the Royal Scots within 45-44 with 6:25 remaining in the game.
McKay then tied the game at 47-47 with a free throw. But the Celtics found Boston Smith in the paint on two consecutive possessions to go up 51-47.
After Tovar drained another 3, Jones found Lucas Garvey for an easy bucket. Alfredo Villarreal then hit a driving Jones to give McNary a 55-50 lead with 1:14 remaining.
“We got into that fourth quarter and we had five possessions in a row where we were able to get good baskets and score,” Kirch said. “Boston was able to get some post up mismatches where they didn’t have help-side and we got it inside to him. We’ve just got to continue to make the defense guard us.”
Villarreal went 4-for-4 from the free throw line in the final 32 seconds as McKay tried to extend the game.
After another 3-pointer followed by a McNary turnover, the Royal Scots had one more chance but failed to get a shot off before the buzzer.
Cavell and Garvey each had 13 points in the win. Smith added 12.
McNary won 56-39 at West Albany on Friday, Feb. 2.
The Celtics led 37-32 entering the fourth quarter before outscoring the Bulldogs 19-7 in the final period.
Chandler Cavell led McNary with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Lucas Garvey added 14 points and three rebounds. Boston Smith finished with 11 points and four rebounds. Andrew Jones had 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.
The Celtics host South Salem on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 6:45 p.m.
“One day at a time right now,” Kirch said. “We’re not even worried about South until probably Saturday or Sunday, at least for the players. We’ve just got to get better over the next couple of days for ourselves.”
McNary’s girls (15-5, 9-3) rebounded from a 62-56 loss to West Albany to easily defeat McKay 59-26 on Tuesday, Feb. 6.
Kailey Doutt finished with 25 points and eight rebounds in the rout. Lead Dott had nine points, seven rebounds and six assists. Paige Downer added nine points and six assists. Kennedy Buss added nine rebounds off the bench.
Downer and Abbie Hawley led the Lady Celts at West Albany, each finishing with 21 points and five rebounds.
McNary plays at South Salem, which it beat at the buzzer the first time, on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 6:45 p.m.