McNary guard Nate Meithof gets to the rack to score two of his 31 points in the Celtics 73-43 victory against Dallas on Monday, June 14 (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

The McNary boys basketball team has played in a number of close games so far this season.

Their matchup with Dallas was not one of them.

The Celtics went up by double-digits midway through the first quarter and never looked back, defeating the Dragons 73-43 on Monday, June 14. Nate Meithof led the Celtics with 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting and Jabol Balos added 10 points in the win.

“It was about not letting up. We were going to come out aggressive and make sure that we didn’t give them a chance to come back,” Meithof said.

Meithof didn’t start the game due to disciplinary reasons, but made his impact immediately after entering the game midway through the opening quarter, dialing up a long-range triple and getting a layup in transition moments later, putting his team up 14-4.

After going up by 12 later in the period, Dallas responded with a 7-0 run, but thanks to a pair of offensive rebounds, Evan Cornell was able to get a hoop before the horn to put the Celtics on top 18-11 at the end of the first.

Despite crawling back into the game, Dallas was unable to handle McNary’s defensive pressure and full-court trap, which led to easy buckets for the Celtics on the offensive end.

Back-to-back easy hoops from Meithof, plus a steal and layup by Gunner Smedema got McNary back up by double-figures early in the second quarter. Meithof also has a pair of massive dunks in transition later in the period to put the Celtics up by 15.

“I thought that our pressure defense worked in conjunction with our offense,” McNary head coach Ryan Kirch said. “Any time we can allow our defense to create offense and get out in the open floor, I think that is when we are at our best.”

“It was all about ball movement and getting down the court in transition,” Balos added.

Despite keeping the lead at 15 midway through the third quarter, Kirch was discouraged to see some sloppy play from his team at both ends of the court, which is why he called timeout to attempt to whip his team back into shape.

“I thought we got sloppy and lackadaisical with the ball. Mistakes on offense are going to happen but it can’t affect what we do on the defensive end, and I thought that it did for three or four possessions,” Kirch said. “I wanted to bring their attention to it. They recognized it and went back out and played.”

It is safe to say that the Celtics received their coach’s message.

After two free throws from Meithof, the star shooting guard was sent to the line once again, this time making the first and missing the second, but getting his own rebound to convert on a layup.

Meithof would score again on the next McNary possession, then found Balos with a one-handed pass while falling out-of-bounds minutes later. Balos knocked down a floater while being fouled and later completed the three-point play to put the Celtics up 56-31.

“The chemistry was key, just working together and talking to each other,” Balos said.

Meithof showed his determination to get into the paint in the third quarter, scoring 10 points in the period, with the majority of them coming from the paint and at the foul line.

“They were guarding me up close and, as soon as they came up in me, I just would jab-step and try to get to the paint,” Meithof said.

Kyler Rodriguez got in on the action with a baseline triple later in the third quarter, then Meithof buried a deep, step-back 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Celtics on top 64-33 — McNary ended the period on an 18-2 run.

“It was about fine-tuning their mindset, then letting them go out and have some fun,” Kirch said.

The Celtics would lead by as many as 34 in the final period before eventually winning by 30.

McNary returns home on Friday, June 18 to take on Corvallis at 7:30 p.m.

Matt Rawlings: [email protected]