McNary guard Brookelynn Jackson looks to finish on the block (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).
The McNary girls basketball squad returned to their gym for the first time in 15 months on Monday, May 24 and gave an impressive performance against Sprague in their home opener.
Leah Doutt led the Celtics with 15 points and Bekah Grimmer added 11 points as McNary dominated the contest from start to finish, defeating the Olympians 47-16.
With five of the 13 players on the roster being seniors, McNary head coach Elizabeth Doran is grateful that she gets another season to coach this crew.
“It is so great that we were able to come back and play for these seniors,” Doran said. “I just think it is so fun for them to be able to finish their senior year with an actual basketball season because they have been playing together since middle school. I think it means a lot to them. I know it means a lot to me.”
One of the seniors who has had a huge impact on the program is Doutt. The first-team all-league point guard had originally decided to graduate early and head to Southern Virginia University. But when a spring basketball season was put in the works earlier this year, Doutt elected to come back to Keizer to finish her prep basketball career — Doutt has decided not to return to Southern Virginia and instead will be heading to Utah State in the fall, but plans on not playing basketball.
“It is definitely different than normal, obviously, but getting to play my last year with my friends is so amazing,” Doutt said. “I have been waiting for this for so long. I have put a lot of work in this offseason and I am so excited to play.”
Although McNary had their struggles with Sprague’s 2-3 zone in the early going, the Celtics offense eventually got things clicking. A 3-pointer by Kylie Nepstad and a fast-break bucket by Grimmer put the Celtics on top 5-0. Then, after seven straight points from Doutt, Grimmer completed a three-point play to extend McNary’s lead to 15-2 at the end of the first period.
McNary got in going from behind the arc in the second quarter as Kylie Nepstad and Doutt hit a pair of triples in the period, giving the Celtics a 33-7 lead at halftime.
“I love when the other team plays 2-3 (zone) so I can shoot more,” said Nepstad, who was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc on the night. “We shot the ball well tonight.”
Doran added: “We have been shooting really well from the outside. We had a lot of time to get shots up over the last year.”
While their offense was sharp for most of the night, McNary’s man-to-man defense wound up giving Sprague fits all game.
“Defense is something that we can control, that is why I am always on the girls about our defense being consistent from game-to-game,” Doran said.
The 16 points that the Celtics surrendered was the least they have given up on a game since 2015.
“We talked a lot before the game about getting a lot of ball-pressure and playing help-defense,” Doutt said.
McNary travels to South Salem for a 7:30 p.m. game on Wednesday, May 25.
Matt Rawlings: [email protected]