Saxons spoil Celtics senior night

Bekah Grimmer goes up for a shot after battling for position on the low block. Grimmer finished with eight points in McNary’s 56-29 loss to South Salem on Friday, Feb. 28 (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

Senior night featured one of McNary’s best defensive performances of the season. Unfortunately for the Celtics, the same couldn’t be said for the offense.

McNary failed to reach the 30-point mark for just the second time in the conference season as the sixth-ranked Saxons defeated the Celtics 56-29 on Friday, Feb. 29.

Leah Doutt was the only McNary player in double-figures with 10 points.

“I thought our effort and intensity were good. We carried out our defensive scout, but their defensive pressure made us a little tired offensively and I think that showed in the third quarter when we were struggling to score. They’re a great team with multiple offensive threats,” McNary head coach Elizabeth Doran said.

Doutt had five straight points to start the game out. Then, McNary post Bekah Grimmer had back-to-back hoops as South Salem ended the period with just a two-point lead.

The Saxons had trouble with McNary’s 2-3 zone in the early going. The defensive scheme especially affected South Salem point guard Hillary James.

James, the Mountain Valley Conference player of the year, was held to just five points on 2-for-12 shooting.

“I thought we did a good job of lowering Hillary’s points, which is what our plan was defensively,” Doran said.

After trailing by seven earlier in the second quarter, Kennedy Buss was able to get the lead back within three with later in the period with a baseline triple and a transition layup. However, the Saxons ended the quarter on an 8-0 run and had a 27-16 advantage at half.

Still, Doran felt like her team was in position to make it a competitive second half.

“We were definitely in it. We just told the girls to leave it all out there on the floor and I thought we did that for three of the four quarters. But the third quarter got away from us a little bit,” Doran said. 

McNary shooting guard Kenzie Proctor opened the half with a jumper, but the South Salem defense held the Celtics scoreless for the next six minutes. The Saxons scored the next 17 points to put the game out of reach.

The Celtics finished the season with a 9-15 record and were 6-8 during MVC play.

The injury bug had a deep impact on multiple McNary players throughout the season. Fortunately for the Celtics, they are set to return 10 of their 12 players for next year — including all five starters.

“We know what we need to do get better on and we have a lot of girls returning and we will come back next year hungry to have more success in league,” Doran said