Fourth quarter rally pushes Celts over the top

McNary’s Leah Doutt goes in for a layup after receiving an outlet pass. The senior point guard had 17 points in the Celtics 46-39 victory over West Salem (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

With their backs against the wall, the McNary girls basketball squad responded in resounding fashion.

After trailing by double-figures late in the third quarter, the Celtics outscored West Salem 24-9 in the final period as they went onto defeat the Titans by a score of 46-39 on Friday, May 28.

Leah Doutt led McNary with 17 points — including 10 in the fourth quarter — and Bekah Grimmer added 13 points in the win.

“We have a veteran team out there and I think that showed in our composure down the stretch,” McNary head coach Elizabeth Doran said. “We have a lot of players that have been in that situation before and it just showed. I am really proud of them.”

“It feels so good to beat West (Salem). We have lost to them quite a few times in my four years here so just to end a win against this team is such a great feeling,” Doutt added.

Although the Celtics struggled with the West Salem press in the opening period, back-to-back triples from Doutt got the McNary offense off the schneid. After a pair of free throws from Grimmer, a transition bucket by Avery Buss gave McNary the 10-8 advantage.

However, it was apparent that West Salem’s length was giving the Celtics trouble in the second quarter. McNary made just one field goal in the final 11 minutes of the half, allowing the Titans to take a 23-15 lead into the break.

After going back and forth for most of the third quarter, the Titans went up 30-20 with under two minutes remaining in the period. A runner by Grimmer cut the deficit to eight before the start of the fourth quarter.

The Celtics began the second half in a 2-3 zone, but backed out of it midway through the third quarter. However, when McNary went back to the 2-3 to start the final period, it began to give the Titans fits.

“We talked after the third quarter about how we needed to turn up the intensity on defense if we wanted to get back in this game,” Doutt said. “We were putting the pressure on them and it really helped.”

“We had such great communication on defense. We had all the energy because we knew that we had to fight,” Grimmer added.

Consecutive hoops by Annie-Leigh Besa brought the deficit to four, which was soon followed by a tough bucket by Kennedy Buss to trim the lead to 30-28. After getting a stop on the other end, Buss followed up her hoop with a defensive rebound, then hit Doutt for an easy layup with a perfect outlet pass downcourt, tying the game at 30.

“We started to slip out as soon as someone shot and it was always open,” Grimmer said.

Doutt got to the foul line on the next McNary trip and knocked down both shots, completing a 12-0 McNary run to put the Celtics on top for the first time since the second quarter.

“I was really frustrated that I wasn’t hitting my shots and I knew that if I wanted to help my team get back in it, then I needed to start attacking the basket,” Doutt said.

West Salem retook the lead at 35-33 with under three minutes to play, but two more free throws from Doutt and a turnaround jumper by Grimmer put the Celtics back on top.

The Titans tied the game at 37 with less than two minutes to play, but another pair of clutch foul shots by Doutt gave McNary the lead for good. The Celtics got multiple stops down the stretch and went 9-10 from the free throw line in the final two minutes.

“We didn’t shoot free throws well in our last game so I am happy that they were able to convert them when it mattered,” Doran said.

Matt Rawlings: [email protected]