By Jeremy McDonald
KEIZER, Ore.– After four long, long games, the McNary Girls Basketball are finally back in the win column versus Gresham Tuesday night.
For the young Lady Celtics, a team consisting of four seniors, it’s a great confidence booster as they wrap up the preseason versus a tough Beaverton team Thursday up at Beaverton as they snapped a four-game losing streak.
“That was probably the first four-game losing streak that I’ve had since I’ve been at McNary,” said Head Coach Derick Handley. “So it’s been a few years since we dropped four-in-a-row. It was tough, you know Gresham played really ahrd. I rather learn our lessons through our hands than losses. Too many lessons learned through losses.”
Kailey Doutt started the night as she scored four first quarter points and rebounded extremely well as McNary opened the game with a 21-10 first quarter lead and momentum firmly in the Celtics way.
“It was really important because we need to get our tempo up and our momentum going so we have confidence for the rest of the game,” said Doutt.
But, some minor hiccups in the second quarter allowed McNary to come back into contention.
With a 19-9 second quarter, the Celtics used a Doutt buzzer beating lay-up to enter the halftime break up 30-29 as the junior had seven of her 11 points in the first half.
“For us, the main thing has been consistency. So we have a lot of girls who are athletic, we have girls who fly around and make plays,” said Handley. “But when we get into some of our leads, we get a little on our heals, we stop playing as hard or as aggressive than we’re capable of, and when you play some of these teams, aggressive teams they’re going to stretch pass you and what we’re trying to get is the consistency of the effort.
“We have the athlete’s who can play and I think we got some girls who can score, but it’s getting them to get to every, single possession every single time on defense as well.”
In the second half, the Gophers would poke their heads out on several occasions as they kept the game within striking distance for most of the second half.
That was, or the deciding factor that is, was senior Sydney Hunter.
Hunter, who was relatively quite in the first half with 10 points, exploded in the second half and proved to be clutch for the McNary squad with 22 point. 14 of those points came from the line where she was a perfect 14-for-14 at as the Lady Celtics pulled away for the 67-56 victory to improve to 4-4 on the season.
“It feels amazing because we’ve been working super hard and we felt like we’ve been getting killed, it’s just been small little breakdowns that we have in games, so it’s a learning to build from those are definitely helping us but it feels great to break it,” said Hunter.
Confidence. Something that’ll help them come Thursday against the Beavers and then heading back into league versus Forest Grove Tuesday to enter back into Greater Valley Conference play.
To continue this momentum into those games, is to run what’s worked best with their up-tempo pace against the zones that Beaverton and the Vikings run.
“For us, the big thing is if we can force aggression, when can we get the ball out in space and we can transition and kind of make those teams run the pace we want them to as oppose to slow it and run it the way they want to,” “We’re trying to do things on defense that’s a little bit different than we’ve done and so, forcing the aggression and getting us into the passing lanes and get some more steals, things like that and push our offensive momentum.
“So that’ll be the big thing against Beaverton in particular is, got to force turnovers. We got to force them into pressure spots and we got to get the ball out in transition on them in return.”
Hunter-32. Doutt-11. Lao-10.Hawley-6. Downer-6. Schmit-2. 3-Pointers-Lao-2. Hawley-1. Downer-1. Free Throws- Team-18-20.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald