McNary Basketball

Hot first quarter sparks Celts season opening win

Anthony Fuentes shoots a 3-pointer from the top of the key against Reynolds on Nov. 30, 2023, at McNary High School. (JOSHUA MANES/Keizertimes)

Last season, the Celtics averaged just under 60 points per game. They were more than halfway to that mark after just eight minutes to start the season on Thursday. 

And while the offense slowed slightly, the 33-point first quarter was more than enough for the 75-47 win at home against Reynolds to open the 2023-24 season.

“We made the play as opposed to trying to make a play,” McNary head coach Ryan Kirch said. “And when you do that, you take balanced shots. I thought our guys were in rhythm and we scored really well.”

Balanced may be the optimal word for the McNary offense on Thursday where nine players scored, three in double-digits. Sophomore Anthony Fuentes and junior Esai Carrasquillo tied for a team-high 12 points. Carrasquillo had a double-double to start the season, pulling down 13 rebounds to go with his dozen points.

Junior Steven Adams had 10 points and a team-high five assists. Ethan Wollangk and Adyn Dallum had nine points each

On the other side of the ball, it was the McNary pressure defense that kept Reynolds from finding any level of comfort on offense. They finished the game with 18 steals, 17 pass deflections and a number of forced turnovers.

At one point in the first quarter, McNary came away with steals and scores on four consecutive possessions as the lead grew to 21. 

“When you’re able to jump on a team like that early, boy it sure gives you a lot of advantages and some room for error,” Kirch said.

The Celtics led by as many as 32 points in the second quarter before, as is bound to happen, the hot shooting began to cool and regress to the norm. But even as the shots stopped falling, McNary continued to shoot with confidence, even for a team with little varsity experience. 

Kirch credited their work in the two weeks of practice leading to the season for their ability to start hot and stay confident throughout.

“Our guys compete and when you have depth like that, it’s a fight in practice,” Kirch said. “And we said ‘you play as hard as we’re asking to play in practice and game’s going to come easy.’

The McNary lead never dropped to single-digits, with Reynolds cutting it down to 11 at best. 

Compounding the drop in shooting percentage, the Celtics had eight turnovers, the majority coming in the second half, and multiple turnovers coming on outlet passes sailing long. But even with the turnovers, Kirch was encouraged with the Celtics ability to get out and run.

“I thought our intent was good, our execution’s got to be better,” Kirch said. “Our pass advancing I thought was good. We had some silly turnovers there that we didn’t need to have, but again, guys were playing really, really hard. I was impressed with the amount of guys we brought in the game and there wasn’t really a drop off.”

The Celtics are back on the court Tuesday when they host Aloha at 7 p.m.