Sometimes one second is all you need, and it’s all the Celtics needed Tuesday night.
Well, 1.3 seconds to be exact.
That’s what the clock read at West Salem, as McNary trailed 57-56, with possession.
Senior guard Jando Gonzalez stood under the basket, ready to inbound the ball with fellow seniors Jabol Balos-Mesey and Brody Roth on the right and left blocks.
Balos-Mesey cut through the key towards the perimeter as Roth set a screen for him. Balos-Mesey circled back, received the pass from Gonzalez and laid the ball in off the glass over the outstretched fingers of the West Salem defender as time expired.
Balos-Mesey was mobbed by teammates and the McNary student section at midcourt in celebration of the 58-57 win for the Celtics (14-6, 6-2) against the then OSAA-ranked No. 12 Titans (12-8, 7-1).
Those final two points gave Balos-Mesey 16 on the night, tied for the game-high with teammate Steven Adams and West Salem’s Tommy Slack.
He shot 6-for-11 from the field, hitting both 3-point attempts, and added five assists and two blocks.
Gonzalez and Roth each had nine points for McNary.
This is the fourth win in a row for the Celtics, their longest winning streak of the season.
And the celebration didn’t end on the court.
As head coach Ryan Kirch walked into the locker room he was met by cheers and fists pumping in the air from his team as the emotion continued to flow.
“That is as fun as it gets,” Kirch told his players.
But that game wasn’t just about fun, it was an important win that keeps the Celtics’ hopes of a Central Valley Conference championship alive and well.
They trail the Titans by one game in the standings, with the head-to-head record at 1-1 and one more meeting between the two on the schedule for Feb. 21. It’s a meeting that could all but decide the CVC champion.
This season, that conference championship comes with a guaranteed home game in the postseason, regardless of ranking. And with the Celtics at No. 22 at time of press, that could be their only shot at hosting a playoff game this season.