Lady Celts’ strong season ends in 1st round

In the opening round of the OSAA 6A girls basketball state championship playoffs, No. 24 McNary Lady Celts was on the road at Oregon City to face the No. 9 Lady Pioneers Tuesday night.  

And while the under-dog McNary hung with them for much of the first half, the Lady Pioneer’s size and athleticism proved to be too much in the 65-34 win for Oregon City.

From the tip Oregon City’s full-court press wreaked havoc on the McNary offense, not allowing any chance for the Lady Celts to get into any sort of half-court rhythm. And the Lady Pioneers’ size kept them from getting out and running off of rebounds. 

But early on the score didn’t reflect the McNary turnovers and numerous second and third-chance opportunities for Oregon City, as McNary managed to keep Oregon City from running away with the game. 

Things looked like they could get out of hand from the start as the Lady Pioneers jumped out to a 10-2 lead, but the Lady Celts were able to keep it within single-digits up to the closing minutes of the second quarter.

They went into the locker room down 12, having scored the same amount of points as they had turnovers, 15. 

Ball security may have been a point of emphasis at halftime, as McNary only turned the ball over three times in the second half. 

But as the snow fell outside the gym and the temperatures dropped, the Lady Celts went ice cold from the outside. They were just 1-for-6 on 3-pointers in the first half, but they went 0-for-8 from beyond the arc in the second half. 

Juniors Ava Rubio and Avery Buss tried to keep McNary in the game offensively. Rubio scored a team-high 13 points, hitting the lone 3-pointer for McNary. Her five rebounds were tied with Buss for the team lead.

Buss scored nine of her 11 points in the second half, and had a team-high three assists. 

“We needed to work better as a team, we needed to accept the pressure they were giving us and embrace it,” Buss said. 

The Lady Celts’ season didn’t end the way they may have wanted, but it ended later than some might have thought before the season began. 

From fifth in the Central Valley Conference last season to second place. New head coach Mike McShane brought a new intensity to the team, with a renewed focus on defense and getting out and running. 

Their offensive and defensive numbers jumped, scoring four more points per game than last season, while allowing four points fewer per game. They led the CVC in points allowed with just under 41 per game.

Their only league losses came in the three matchups with CVC champion No. 10 West Salem. A West Salem team that lost to Oregon City 42-40 in December. 

And their work improvement was recognized across the league, with six earning all-conference honors, and senior Brookelynn Jackson being named the CVC co-defensive player of the year.