Riding the hot hand of senior Brody Roth, the Celtics were able to take down the Sprague Olympians in double overtime and extend their season-long win streak to five games Tuesday.
Regulation wasn’t enough time, nor was an extra four minutes. But in the second overtime period, McNary (15-6, 7-2) was able to get some separation, knock down their free throws, and hold on for a 58-55 win.
The Celtics have had a number of close games this season, including another overtime game against Sprague back on Jan. 5.
“We’ve been in so many of them that you can tell our guys play with a sense of calm and poise and we talk about it often,” head coach Ryan Kirch said. “Every game in this league is tough, and it’s really hard to beat a team three times. It’s really hard to beat a good coach three times.”
The game was played in a 12-point range. The Olys jumped out to an early six-point lead on two 3-pointers from senior Liam Spencer. The Celtics matched the six-point lead midway through the third quarter.
Three illegal screens and four offensive fouls in total for the Olys in the first quarter helped the Celtics stay close and take an early lead before heading into the locker room trailing 24-23 at halftime.
The Olys had a chance to win in regulation. They had the ball with one minute left on the clock, and four timeouts.
They ran 45 seconds off before calling a timeout, then using another timeout with 10 seconds left and a chance for the last shot with the score tied at 45.
Spencer drove baseline for the Olys, dished off to Jake Horn, the tallest player on the court for either team at 6-feet-9-inches. Horn missed, but Nathan Tesfu was there for Sprague with the put back that just bounced out.
Roth, who lead all scorers with 22 on the night, opened the first overtime period with a 3-pointer, matched by Spencer to tie the game.
But the Olys would lose their leading scorer for the night shortly after. Spencer was whistled for his fifth foul, ending the sharpshooter’s night with 20 points.
“It’s huge for a couple reasons. We just guard him really really hard, and it takes a lot to do that,” Kirch said. “But what’s harder is you give away some things and they did a good job of slip screens and putting Liam in screening situations to confuse our defense a couple times. When he’s not there we don’t have to work as hard defensively.”
The foul sent Jando Gonzalez to the line for the Celtics with the game tied, but he missed the first — his only missed free throw on a 8-for-9 night for Gonzalez.
With the score tied and 35 seconds left, McNary had the ball with a chance to end it. But things didn’t go so smoothly for the Celtics.
The Olys nearly came away with a steal, Gonzalez hit the floor for McNary to get the ball back, but his pass from the ground was intercepted. But then Sprague, with a chance to take it turned the ball back over the the Celtics with 1.2 seconds left.
Steven Adams missed a half court heave, and the game headed into double overtime.
In the second overtime period Roth opened the scoring up with a jumper, and Gonzalez knocked down two more free throws after Sprague threw away the inbounds pass to give the Celtics a 52-48 advantage.
An and-1 for Grayson Long brought the Olys back within one.
But in the closing minute of the game, Jabol Balos-Mesey went to the line twice, knocking down all four to twice extend the McNary lead to three.
“I just knew I had to knock it down,” Balos-Mesey said. “All that went through my head was ‘knock it down’ and I did.”