Nepstad leads McNary to victory

McNary senior shooting guard Kylie Nepstad scored 28 points to lead the Celtics to a 50-44 win over Thurston (File).

After going through some offensive struggles in the first half, the McNary girls basketball team got a huge lift from senior shooting guard Kylie Nepstad, who played the game of her life to lead the Celtics to victory.

Nepstad poured in a career-high 28 points, 23 of which came in the second half, as the Celtics rallied to beat Thurston 50-44 for their first win of the season on Friday, Dec. 10.

“It was good for us to get a win on the road.” McNary head coach Elizabeth Doran said. “Kylie was amazing all night. We were able to get her a lot of open looks, and she knocked them down.”

“It felt so good to get our first win. I feel like we are working better as a team and that we are going to keep on getting better,” Nepstad added.

The Celtics took a 10-3 lead in the first quarter, but had issues with Thurston’s 2-3 zone in the opening half, which allowed the Colts to end the half on a 14-7 run to give themselves a 17-16 advantage at the break.

However, when the third quarter started, the McNary offense began to find a groove.

After Thurston took their largest lead of the game at 23-18, back-to-back triples by Nepstad and Avery Buss put the Celtics back on top. Nepstad would score in transition moments later, then hit another triple with 12 seconds left in the third quarter to extend McNary’s lead to 34-28 — Nepstad went 4-for-6 from beyond the arc.

“It just all came to me in the moment. I love when defense plays 2-3 against me because I am able to get a lot of looks,” Nepstad said. “My teammates just kept finding me for open shots.”

Along with doing damage from three-point territory, Nepstad also had four steals in the game, which allowed her to get some easy baskets during fast-break opportunities.

“We ran her on the baseline while they were playing zone, so we were able to get her a lot of open looks. She also did well on defense, which helped her get some transition buckets as well,” Doran said. “We went into a zone in the second half and did a better job picking off some passes and getting some transition buckets in the second half. Our defense led to better offense.”

While Nepstad is primarily a perimeter player, she was more assertive in driving to the hoop, which led to her getting to the foul line on a regular basis. Nepstad went 10-of-14 at the foul line, and hit four free throws down the stretch to help seal the win for McNary.

“I was definitely more aggressive. I drove to the hoop a lot more than I usually do,” Nepstad said.

“Down the stretch, she was the one that was hitting free throws for us,” Doran added.

McNary’s next non-league matchup will come at home against Liberty on Friday, Dec. 17 at 7 p.m.