Despite their glaring advantage, Brody Roth didn’t seem phased by the size of the McMinnville Grizzlies.
The senior wing led the way for McNary (4-1) in the 57-45 win.
Even with the imposing size of Walt and Clyde Rosenberg, 6-foot-6-inches and 6-foot-5-inches respectively, inside for McMinnville (4-2), the 6-foot-3-inch Roth got into the lane seemingly at will, finishing with 25 points and 14 rebounds.
“We played pretty together, pretty quick and stuff,” Roth said. “That’s one thing we have. We’re smaller, faster.”
Roth finished the night 10-for-14 from the field, hitting both 3-point attempts, and a perfect 3-for-3 from the free-throw line.
Defensively, McNary looked a little different, but that wasn’t entirely due to McMinnville’s size.
According to head coach Ryan Kirch, senior guard Jabol Balos-Mesey was dealing with a bout of strep throat during the week, prompting Kirch to bring him off the bench.
In his place, Kirch started Logan Bowlby. The move gave the Celtics a little more size, but less speed to start the game.
The move affected their ability to press early in the game, where the high defensive intensity has been a trademark of the Celtics’ early season.
“I just didn’t think we were as athletic as we needed and wanted to be.” Kirch said. “Part of that was the way they attacked it, and we just didn’t communicate as well as we needed to.”
The Celtics led for most of the game. The Grizzlies took a one point lead midway through the second quarter, but Jando Gonzalez responded with a 3-pointer to put the Celts back up 19-17, and they never looked back, though the Grizzlies kept things close.
It was a four-point game at halftime, and the Celtics led 41-36 at the end of the third quarter. However, both of those were made closer by late 3s in the first and second quarter for McMinnville from Brandon Bomberger.
He closed the first with a buzzer beater to cut the score to 13-11 for McNary. Bomberger repeated the performance with a couple seconds to play in the second quarter, cutting McMinnville’s deficit to four.
“We’ve talked about it, we just have to get better execution wise,” Kirch said. “Both times we had the ball with under a minute to go. That should be, minimum, we go in with no change at the end of the quarter. Instead, both times, we took a bad shot. It happened in the third quarter as well. Those are just situations where mentally we have to be more aware.”
Despite the miscues to close the quarters, the Celtics turned the defensive pressure up to start the final frame.
The defensive pressure quickly helped increased the lead to 47-36.
“Our defense is what allows us to create our offense,” Kirch said. “We needed to use our defense to get out and get some easy baskets in transition. We were able to do that to get the lead out to nine or 10 points, and it was enough to hold onto in the end.”
Coming off the bench, Balos contributed 9 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists, shooting 4-for-7 from the field.
Balos was one of only three players to come off the bench, despite a game scheduled for the following day.
But even with the next game on the horizon, there was no thought from Kirch or the team to spare some energy.
“It’s all right now, and all tomorrow too,” Roth said.