Coach Elizabeth Doran (masked) talking to her team prior to the start of Thursday’s game.Photo by Matt Rawlings of Keizertimes.
It’s been a season of growth and development for the McNary girls’ basketball team as they wrapped up their season on Thursday, Feb. 24 at South Salem High School.
Their 12-3 Spring season saw them lose some key starters from that squad entering this year, but it saw some girls step up this winter, laying the foundation for a promising 2022-23 season.
In their season finale, the Celtics rose once more to the challenge of the Saxons, who finished second in the Mountain Valley Conference, holding leads of 7-2, 11-10 and 15-14 entering the final minute of the opening half of the game before eventually falling to the Saxons by a score of 45-42 in the season finale.
Avery Buss led McNary with 12 points, Kylie Nepstad added seven and Hailey Schwinof contributed six in the loss. The Celts finished 8-16 overall and 6-8 in MVC play.
South Salem had slowly come around thanks to taking advantage of McNary turnovers and turning them into points. They finished the opening half of the game on an 8-0 run, leading 22-15 going into the break.
Ava Rubio at the Free Throw Line.Photo by Matt Rawlings of Keizertimes.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” head coach Elizabeth Doran said.
The Saxons had their run and the Celtics answered with a run of their own in the third quarter following a Avery Buss three-pointer at the 2:03 marker of the frame.
After McNary tied the game at 29-all, South Salem’s Maddie Dustin scored a basket that had the Saxons up 31-29 at the end of three quarters.
With the Saxons up 42-40 with 37.2 left. Dustin pushed the lead to 44-40 with a hoop and then 45-42 with 15.2 seconds left after a made free throw. Even then, the Celtics had a chance to force overtime down the stretch with Nepstad attempting the tying 3-pointer that missed its mark as the Saxons grabbed the defensive rebound to eventually hold on to the win.
Despite the defeat, Doran was proud of the way her team competed.
“This was a good game to end on. We’ve played one of our best defensive games. It’s sad to see them go, but not a lot of teams could end in a game where you didn’t win, but you had a really great game. This is when basketball is fun.”