Annie Leigh Besa looks to score after receiving the ball in the post. (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings)

McNary forward Rebekah Grimmer drives by her defender on the baseline in McNary’s 51-28 victory over Sprague. (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings)

The McNary girls basketball team came into their contest with Sprague in desperate need of a victory. 

After beginning Mountain Valley Conference play with a 6-0 record, the Celtics had lost their last five contests and were watching their playoff hopes begin to dwindle. 

But McNary was able to get back on track against the winless Olympians, defeating Sprague 51-28 on Friday, Feb. 15 to stay in the hunt for the postseason.

“It’s good for team morale to get a win,” McNary head coach Elizabeth Doran said. “We were in a funk for a while, but we have picked it up in the last couple of games.”

McNary point guard Leah Doutt had been battling an illness all week and only played limited minutes. Needing someone to step up on offense, Abigail Hawley answered the call.

Hawley led the Celtics with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field and knocked down several important shots to help the Celtics build their lead in the second period.

“I definitely knew that I had to step up,” Hawley said. “But I am also proud of how my teammates stepped up.”

Despite a bucket from Mackenzie Proctor and a pair of jumpers from Hawley in the first quarter, McNary struggled to find an offensive rhythm and found themselves trailing 8-7 and the end of the opening period.

However, the tide began to turn once the second quarter began.

After a floater from Hawley to give the Celtics the lead back, the senior wing found Doutt with a great outlet pass for an easy layup.

Moments later, Hawley drained an open 3-pointer after receiving a great feed from Annie Leigh Besa, and then knocked down another triple with 30 seconds remaining in the half, putting the Celtics on top 22-15 going into the break.

Once the third quarter started, McNary began to run away with the game. 

McNary started the half with a full-court press that decimated the inexperienced Olympians and gave the Celtics many more chances at open looks.

Proctor and Sabella Alfaro each nailed triples early in the period, which were followed with a baseline jumper from Rebekah Grimmer.

Doutt would eventually get in on the action with an easy layup after a steal in the backcourt by Alfaro. Doutt’s bucket completed a 10-2 run for McNary and gave the Celtics a 32-17 advantage.

“Our defensive pressure and the way we attacked the basket I think was such a big improvement,” Hawley said. “Those were the things we were lacking when we were on that losing streak.”

McNary extended their advantage to 38-23 heading into the final period after Hawley ended the third with four straight points.

With a comfortable lead, Doran was able to get some of her younger players some varsity action in the second half

Grace Carr and Madison Alt were both able to knock down shots from behind the arc down in the fourth quarter to help give McNary the lopsided victory.

“It’s awesome that we have girls that can step into a varsity game and play with confidence,” Doran said. 

McNary will host South Salem tonight at 5:45 p.m. in their final game of the regular season.