Celts beat Sprague for first league win

Bekah Grimmer rises up to shoot a jumper over a Sprague defender in McNary’s 40-27 win on Thursday, Jan. 30 (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

After losing their first four games in Mountain Valley Conference play, the McNary girls basketball team was desperate for a victory. 

Fortunately for the Celtics, starting point guard Leah Doutt returned to action after missing the last four games due to illness, and she did not disappoint.

Doutt came off the bench to lead McNary with 12 points, three assists and two steals, allowing the Celtics to earn their first league win of the season, beating Sprague 40-27 on Thursday, Jan. 30.

“It was really nice to back on the floor. It was really hard to have to sit on the bench and watch my team because I wanted to help. I actually felt a lot better that I was expecting to,” Doutt said. “We really needed that win. I think it will be a big confidence builder for us.”

Annie Leigh Besa was also in double-figures with 11 points in the victory. 

Doutt was pressed into duty earlier than expected after Kenzie Proctor got her second foul less than a minute into the game. She hit a runner midway through the first period for her first bucket to put the Celtics on top 4-0.

A jumper from Besa gave McNary the 6-2 lead at the end of the quarter.

The Celtics extended their advantage with a 10-0 run to start the second period. After a free throw by Besa, Doutt completed a three-point play to make the score 10-2. 

“It’s great to have Leah back. A lot of these girls have been playing with her since fifth grade. It was just really good to see her log some game minutes,” McNary head coach Elizabeth Doran said. 

Besa followed with four straight points and Bekah Grimmer got in on the action with a slick turnaround jumper on the block.

On the defensive side, McNary hounded Sprague for most of the game, holding the Olympians to under 10 points for the half.

“It was all about playing with high defensive energy,” Besa said. 

McNary took a 21-9 lead into halftime, but Sprague started to creep their way back into the game during the third quarter, cutting the deficit down to eight at 29-21.

The Olympians continued to chomp away at the McNary lead and even had the deficit down to 31-27 with just over three minutes left in the contest. 

But down the stretch, McNary dominated on both ends of the floor. 

Doutt scored a big bucket to get the Celtics lead back up to six. On McNary’s next possession, Besa hit a clutch jumper with less than two minutes to go.

“We did a good job of taking care of the ball on offense and making sure that we got a good shot,” Doutt said about her team’s offensive performance late in the game.

The McNary defense, on the other hand, held the Olympians scoreless for the final 4:27 of the contest — and the 27 points scored by Sprague was the least amount McNary had surrendered to an opponent this season.

“We stayed composed and we fixed our help-side defense and kept them out of the paint,” Doran said. “The win was definitely a good morale boost. We showed a lot of heart late in the game.”  

McNary will host Summit at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7.