Just 72 hours after a dismal shooting performance the likes that head coach Ryan Kirch said he hadn’t seen in 21 years, the Celtics responded with an impressive conference win against the North Salem Vikings Thursday night.
McNary (10-4, 2-0) shot 52% from the field, defeating North Salem (8-6, 0-2) 59-48.
“We haven’t even talked about Monday,” head coach Ryan Kirch said. “Tuesday night we had a good, long, hard practice. Yesterday our guys spent time together at a parent’ house without coaches, and they always love that.”
And there was a lot to forget about the 62-25 loss to the Pioneers.
Three nights ago the Celtics went a span of almost 15 minutes without scoring. So, when early shots went in Thursday night, there might have been a sense of relief.
“It felt good,” senior guard Jando Gonzalez said. “It got the crowd going, the intensity from our bench. It was a great way to start the game.”
Gonzalez, who finished the game with 11 points, shot 50% from the field, including a driving layup as time expired in the first quarter to increase the McNary lead to nine.
He was 3-for-7 from 3-point range, adding in 5 assists and 3 rebounds.
“We just wanted to prove that just because we had one bad game that’s not how it’s going to be the whole season,” Gonzalez said.
Senior wing Brody Roth quietly had a double-double for McNary, with a game-high 18 points and 12 rebounds.
And sophomore guard Steven Adams has started to heat up again. Adams was the Celtics’ leading scorer early in the season, but cooled off midway.
“He’s pretty darn tough,” Kirch said. “Teams start to focus on him and that’s a little different for him. He’s smaller going up against bigger guys at times.”
But Adams hasn’t backed down, consistently taking contact on drives and battling inside despite the noticeable size disparity he often faces.
Adams scored 17 Thursday night, shooting 4-for-7 on 3-pointers, including two that he banked in in the first quarter.
“I did call it on one,” Adams said with a smile.
He added in 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and also drew two charging penalties, leading Kirch to call his defense “underrated.”
Offensively for North Salem, things flowed through senior wing Dominic Hughes, something Kirch and the Celtics were ready for.
“He actually grew up playing with a lot of our guys here in Keizer, so we know him and he’s a great kid,” Kirch said. “Pretty strong, athletic and can score it. We knew that he was foul prone as well so we really wanted to attack him when he was setting ball screens and get some early fouls, which he did.”
Those early fouls added up. Hughes fouled out less than a minute into the fourth quarter with McNary up 45-42. With Hughes sidelined, the Celtics closed out the game 14-6.
But even with the win, there’s still some things for Kirch to critique.
Despite the early foul trouble for North Salem, McNary didn’t take advantage. They were in the bonus less than halfway through the second quarter, yet only shot three free throws in the first half.
“At that point we were a little rushed on some of our shot selection when we really wanted to get ourselves to the free throw line,” Kirch said. “We knew that they weren’t very disciplined defensively and that we could draw fouls, and we did, I just don’t think we made them pay as much as we would have liked to in that final three or four minutes of the second quarter.”
The Celtics are back in action next week with a game at South Salem Jan. 16 before hosting West Salem Jan. 19.