Cabral balls, but Celtics can’t top Titans

Despite a career night off the bench from Aubri Cabral, McNary girls basketball couldn’t quite finish off the Central Valley Conference leading West Salem Titans on Tuesday night.

In a back-and-forth battle between the top two teams in the CVC, the Titans (15-5, 8-0) were able to erase a nine-point second half deficit and come away with a 68-63 win over the Lady Celts (14-6, 6-2).

It was the second meeting between the two this season, with West Salem running away with the first game at home 60-30.

This time around, McNary was able to handle the West Salem press much better, according to McNary head coach Mike McShane.

And perhaps Cabral’s team-high 17 points off the bench was the spark McShane and the Lady Celts needed to keep up with the Titans.

“She’s been putting in the work, she’s been staying after every practice,” McShane said. “I’ve been telling her it’s only a matter of time before she has a breakout game. It was tonight. She deserves it.”

On top of her 17 points on 70% shooting from the field, Cabral was also tied for the team-high in rebounds and steals. Her six rebounds were tied with Avery Buss — five of those were offensive rebounds for Cabral — and four steals matched KJ Custer.

McNary held a lead for a little more than half of the game, taking it early in the second quarter on an Avery Buss 3-pointer with 6:39 left.

The Titans wouldn’t hold the lead until the 6:35 mark of the fourth quarter, when the teams traded the lead seven times.

McNary led by as many as nine points, and built it back up multiple times after West Salem closed to within one. But with multiple opportunities to push the lead higher, McNary was unable to take advantage.

McShane had an idea what they could have done to keep the momentum and increase the lead.

“Missing some blockouts where they got second and third chances, and some of those were 3-pointers,” McShane said. “But you have to give West Salem credit for knocking those big shots down.”

West Salem had two end of quarter runs to keep things close. They ended the third quarter on a 7-0 run in the final 2:33 to get within one point after Buss left the game with an ankle injury.

Buss returned early in the fourth, helping to quell the growing Titan momentum.

“Avery is the engine that makes us go,” McShane said. “She’s our captain, she’s our point guard, and she’s a playmaker. When she’s out there our whole team is more confident.”

But perhaps her near three minutes off the floor at a crucial moment was enough for West Salem.

The West Salem press amplified, and after the Titans took a lead with 33 seconds remaining, the Celtics turned the ball over twice.

“That was on me, I didn’t have them prepared as well as I could have,” McShane said.

The loss snapped a four-game win streak for the Lady Celts, who have an endowment game at Canby High School scheduled for Friday before closing out the final four games of CVC league play over the next two weeks.