By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Entering the bulk of their league play this time last year, the McKay Royal Scots were 4-7; at this point re-entering Greater Valley Conference play, the Scots are 7-2.
But, though the record is great, there’s still a lot of work to do stay on this trajectory.
“I think we’re still got a long way to go,” said McKay Head Coach Dean Sanderson. “And which is good, because I think when your 7-2 and you feel like we haven’t been close to be playing as well as we can yet, it’s a good spot to be in.
“Got to keep motivating to practice hard. I think today you watched when we got into half-court against their zone, we struggled. And it wasn’t them forcing us to make mistakes, we were self-induced wounds. We have to clean that stuff up, we got to have to adjust when team’s adjust to us.”
The ‘their’ the Sanderson referred to was the team they were playing Saturday on New Years Eve, was 6-1 Crescent Valley from the 5A level.
After jumping out to a 26-14 lead after the first quarter against the Raiders, Crescent Valley answered and brought the game back to within two possessions by the third quarter before McKay came to life in the fourth quarter to seal the 90-73 victory to have their second three-game winning streak of the season.
And Sanderson pointed to them working hard and trusting in the system that they run.
“We played hard the whole time, and then we wore them down,” said Sanderson. “That’s how these games when you’re playing this way is suppose to go. A lot of time, teams are going to be close in the second and in the third sometimes,”
“And by the fourth quarter, boy, as coaches if we’re doing our jobs, the other team is going to be worn down and our kids shouldn’t…and in the fourth quarter, you saw (we) create some turnovers, we hit some shots and it was all based off of deflections, there passes not being just as crisp. That was positive.”
Hayden Hull, who helped spark the fourth quarter rally against Reynolds Thursday and scored six points in the win Saturday said like how they pushed the ball even during the first half, a area that has been a weak spot for the Scots along with turnovers.
“We pushed the ball very hard in the first and second quarter, and then in the third quarter, we kind of turned over a lot of the possessions,” said Hull. “We had 30 turnovers and counting, and then after that we pushed the ball, we didn’t let down. We battled back to get back into the game.”44
But, these close games: Wins like Reynolds, North Salem, and against the Raiders; even losses like against South Medford, will help them come Tuesday when they take on McMinnville.
“Tough teams we played, it just builds our confidence,” said Shaton Daniels. “Even if we’re losing, it’s building us up for the tougher games in league.”
The Grizzlies (7-1) are just one of the two tough test this upcoming week as they also play Forest Grove (8-2) Saturday, the Vikings barely lost to North Medford in the Championship game of the Abby’s Holiday Tournament in Medford a few days ago.
Not to mention one last preseason game, at Roseburg Thursday as the Indians provide another tough test for McKay in amidst a tough restart to league; and Sanderson knows how important Monday’s practice is to preparation for those three games.
“I think every game has prepared us to play,” starts Sanderson. “It’s hard for any of these teams to take two weeks off in between games, but we took our lumps and went 3-1. I don’t think we played as well at the Abby’s (Tournament) as we did West Salem in our last games. I thought today, we played better than at any point in the Abby’s Tournament.
“So that’s a good sign, we have to put in better to beat McMinnville, we can’t play the same way as we did against Crescent Valley and beat McMinnville Tuesday, so we have to take a step forward.”
And the team is echoing that sentiment as there happy with where they’re at, but know they’re a far ways from where they need to be.
“I think a lot of us are saying that we are not accepting the 7-2 record, but we’re in a good position and we’re not taking that as a accomplishment. We’re taking that as, ‘We need to get better to show the other team what we got’,” said Hull.
SCOTS SCORERS- Castillo-23. Beach-19. Bangs-13. Daniels-11. Garza-9. Hull-6. Joel-4. Tavera-3. Sampson-2.
Follow Jeremy McDonald on Twitter at @J_McDonald81 or like jmcdonaldmedia on Facebook!
Photos By Jeremy McDonald