McNary guard Avery Buss splits a pass between a pair of Canby defenders (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).
Playing with a full roster for one of the first times this season, the McNary girls basketball squad pulled off a huge upset over Canby in their final non-league contest.
Clinging to a two-point lead with less than a minute to go in the third quarter, the Celtics (2-8) outscored Canby (6-3) 19-5 in the final 8:42 to run away with the 45-29 win on Friday, Jan. 7.
“We are finally getting healthy and we have everybody ready to go. We are really starting to click and I thought we played well on both ends of the floor,” McNary head coach Elizabeth Doran said. “It was a huge morale boost for us going into league play. I have been telling our team that we just need to play a full four quarters and play together and I thought we did both of those things in this game.”
KJ Custer and Avery Buss led the Celtics with nine points apiece.
“It feels really good to be back on the court. I missed playing with everybody. It was hard watching from the bench,” said Custer, who missed the start of the season due to a toe injury.
McNary was led by their stifling 2-3 zone defense, which kept Canby out of the paint and forced them to the perimeter. The Cougars shot just 25% from the floor and were held under the 35-point threshold for the first time this season.
“They aren’t a great shooting team but they get to the basket really well against a man defense, which I was a little concerned about us guarding. That’s why we sat back in a zone and kind of played in the gaps. That was the game plan and it seemed to work,” Doran said.
Despite both teams going through offensive struggles in the first quarter, a 6-0 run from McNary, highlighted by a floater from Ava Rubio and a jumper by Kylie Nepstad, put the Celtics on top 8-2. However, the Celtics endured a six-minute scoreless streak, which allowed Canby to come back and tie the game in the second period.
A bucket by Lacey Vasas ended the drought to give McNary the lead back. The Celtics extended the advantage to 19-14 before the half on a runner by Rubio that beat the buzzer.
Custer nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to increase McNary’s lead to eight early in the third quarter, but the Cougar came back to trim the deficit to two with 42 seconds left in the period.
From that point on, the Celtics played some of their best basketball of the season.
After Buss made one of two foul shots, McNary scored on their final possession of the quarter on a pick-and-roll at the top of the key, which led to a wide open jumper by Taylor Rubio, putting the Celtics up 29-24.
McNary opened the fourth quarter by forcing a pair of Canby turnovers that led to easy baskets on the other end, prompting the Cougars to burn a timeout.
“I think being able to push the ball up the floor on fast breaks made it so we could score a lot more points towards the end,” Buss said.
“We were able to get a lot of points in transition with our press and half-court defense,” Doran added.
But the timeout did little to halt the Celtics momentum as McNary’s quality half-court execution led to a triple from Buss, plus a pair of hoops from Custer and Lillian Besa, putting the game out of reach for the Cougars.
“We were patient and setting good screens, which helped us get some layups out of our half-court sets because we worked for a good shot,” Doran said.
McNary opens up Mountain Valley Conference play on Friday, Jan. 14 with a 7:30 p.m. contest against West Salem.
“I just want to see us build on this game and continue to build on both ends of the floor,” Doran said.
Matt Rawlings: [email protected]