McNary’s Nate Meithof cocks the ball back with his left hand as he attacks the glass in the Celtics 70-51 win over McKay (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).
After a lackluster performance in the first period, the McNary boys basketball team turned it up a few notches in the following quarter.
The Celtics were only up 10-6 at the end of one against a winless McKay squad. But McNary went off for 30 points in the next eight-minute stretch and never looked back as they defeated the Royal Scots 70-51 on Friday, Feb. 21.
“I thought we were a little lackadaisical in the first quarter. From then on out, I though we did a pretty good job of executing what we wanted to,” McNary head coach Ryan Kirch said.
Nate Meithof went for 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting and Tyler Copeland added 11 points for the Celtics in the win.
Even though they had the early lead, the Celtics were sloppy with the basketball to begin the game, turning the ball over six times in the first quarter.
“We had a spirited one-way conversation at the end of the first quarter,” Kirch said.
That conversation had an apparent effect on the Celtics.
Tyler O’Connor nailed a jumper to start the second period, getting the Celtics back on track. Gunner Smedema buried a triple moments later to put McNary on top 16-9.
A 3-pointer from Meithof and a pair of buckets from O’Connor extended the Celtics lead to double-figures.
For the second straight game, Kirch made changes to the starting lineup. O’Connor, who has had trouble cracking the rotation for much of the season, got his first start in this one and his six second quarter points provided a key spark to the McNary run.
“It was really fun to get the start and just play the game that I have loved for so long,” O’Connor said.
Kirch added: “Ty had two great days of practice before this game and he’s been working hard defensively. We had some numbers advantages a couple times where Nate got doubled and he was able to find Tyler for some easy opportunities. It’s great when you have a guy that can finish down low. He put himself on the right spot on the floor.”
McNary continued to pile on thanks to hot shooting from behind the arc. Freshman point guard Jando Gonzalez nailed a triple from the corner to make the score 30-16. Then, after four quick points by Meithof, Kyler Rodriguez knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Celtics up 40-21 going into the break.
“I don’t think we were going 100 percent in the first quarter. But we just picked it up and showed that we were the faster and stronger team,” Meithof said.
While the offense provided energy to the McNary bench, the Celtics gained the most momentum after taking multiple charges — McNary drew four offensive fouls throughout the game.
“The charges we were taking started to bring the energy up. We were starting to play really well together,” O’Connor said.
While McKay attempted mightily to get back in the game, Meithof rattled off 10 third quarter points to help the Celtics put the game away.
McNary will host their senior night against South Salem at 5:45 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28. If the Celtics can pull off the victory against the third-ranked Saxons, they would earn at least a share of second place in the Mountain Valley Conference.
“We just want to focus in practice and make sure that we game plan well,” Meithof said.