By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– For four seniors, Tuesday night’s game versus McNary was their last time not just playing at home, but the last time they get to put on the Royal Scots uniform.
Their names: Demeris Bailey, Izaya Coronado, Tristen Wilson and Darell Woods.
It’s unknown if it was a combination of it being Senior Night, the inspirational speech by Head Coach Dean Sanderson during the Senior recognization or the packed home crowd, but McKay came out inspired.
Leading six points by Woods, the Scots held a 10-6 lead midway through the first quarter, confidence was at an all-time high.
“We all just worked hard for the seniors,” described Josiah Castillo on the inspiration. “We all tried our best and I thought we outworked them at times and we just did it for the seniors.”
Despite being down following a 20-4 Celtic run after taking the four-point lead, McKay battled. They didn’t want to see their senior teammates go out with a loss.
Coming down to single-digits several times entering halftime down 33-22 and down to 33-29 immediately after halftime.
Though McNary expanded their lead back to 11 entering the fourth quarter, McKay had a lot to rest their hat on this season as they continued to fight.
As the clock enter the final seven minutes of the year for the Scots, Castillo hit two big three-pointers to get within four, Isreal Garza got it within two with 6:19 left in the game.
Castillo would add another three-pointer soon after with the Scots down one with a handful of minutes to play in the game.
Though McNary avoided a massive upset in the 76-60 win Tuesday night, Sanderson is impressed how his team improved to the end of the season.
“I think this group this season will push us to the next season,” said Sanderson. “I’m just disappointed that it didn’t happen with the seniors (this year). I felt like they deserve a few more wins.
“I loved it, I love the effort, I loved the fighting until it’s over, even when you’re out of the playoffs. It’s a true example of (what) high school sports should be about,”
For Wilson, Woods, Bailey and Cornado, their job is done at McKay. But not forgotten.
“A lot of hard work was put into this whole season, into this gym,” said Wilson. “It was a group of seniors that had a dream to work hard and just leave a legacy that we’re not going to accept losing anymore. We’re going to do our best to win.
“I think that this legacy that these four seniors left, I think this group that will go on and push hard and make playoffs for us.”
As Castillo, Khyler Beach, Noah Tavera and the rest underclassmen fill their shoes next season, they must not forget the work that these four seniors did this season trying to change the culture at McKay High School.
With the team taking pictures in the empty gym, still wearing their white jersey with gold numbering and lettering, Wilson and Woods shared some words of advice to the underclassmen.
“Just keep working hard,” said Woods. “Learn from this season and just use it as motivation for the next. Just continue to fight.”
“Hard work will pay off,” added Wilson. “Trust me, we put in so much work this offseason and during the season at the same time, it was a very good season hard work wise.
“If we can continue this, and moving on and keep pushing, our underclassmen will be successful I promise you that. This is a team to watch out for because it’s going to be a scary season next year for them.”
For Castillo, he knows what momentum they’ve built this year thanks to the seniors, needs to be carried over to 2016-2017 and not have it go to waste.
“It’s going to be good,” said Castillo. “The seniors had good leadership this year and something to carry over to next season.”
PHOTO GALLERY (PICTURES BY JEREMY MCDONALD)
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81