Defensive pressure and transition baskets were the key on Tuesday night for McNary girls basketball against Bend High School.
The Celtics (3-1) completely shut down the Lava Bears (0-4), keeping them scoreless for large chunks of the eventual 48-18 win.
From the start, McNary applied a full court press, not allowing Bend to get comfortable early on.
“We want to be disruptive,” head coach Mike McShane said.
And they were.
The Celtics totalled 22 steals in the game, forcing a number of turnovers from the Lava Bears as well. KJ Custer led the way with five, while 10 of the 12 players recorded at least one steal.
“It’s really good to see the girls getting rewarded for their hard work,” McShane said. “The effort is there, and that’s the cornerstone of our success. As long as we keep working hard and having fun doing it, then we’re going to continue getting better.”
Ava Rubio led scorers with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Custer added in 8 points.
They’re still learning to play as a team, McShane said. One of the key focuses is playing this stifling, pressure defense without fouling. From the opening tip, McShane could be heard from the sidelines urging his team to not foul.
They committed nine fouls in the first half, allowing Bend some easy scoring opportunities at the free throw line.
It was an issue in their previous game, a 37-32 loss at Thurston High School on Dec. 9, according to McShane.
“It was definitely a point of emphasis for us,” McShane said. “We lost that game because of the foul count and our lack of discipline on the defensive end. That’s something we can fix.”
And in the second half the Celtics were able to turn down the whistles while keeping the defensive intensity up, only committing five in the final 16 minutes of play.
McShane was able to play all 12 players significant minutes, getting them vital experience early in the season. All 12 contributed on the stat sheet in some way.
“That’s really great in terms of the experience that they’re gaining so that they’re comfortable, so we can play to our strengths,” McShane said. “The great thing is you don’t see any pouting when the girls come off. When girls come off the court they’re just as excited to cheer for their teammates that were cheering for them.”
The Celtics have a lot of positives to work off through the first four games of the season.
Twice now they’ve held an opponent to less than 20 points, and have outscored their opponents 223-115, leading the Central Valley Conference in both points scored and points allowed.
But McShane, there’s still plenty of improvement to be made over the course of the season. The main spot being offensive execution.
“Learning when we have the advantage numerically and when we don’t,” McShane said. “When we have the advantage, attacking it. When we don’t, throwing on the brakes, setting up and executing our offense.”