By Jeremy McDonald
BEAVERTON, Ore.–It was a frustrating night for sure against Jesuit Wednesday for the Lady Celtics of McNary to start 6A OSAA State Playoffs.
Frustrating in that their defense held the Lady Crusaders to 8-29 from the field and force 17 turnovers and did everything they did to set up their offense…only to see only seven of their 42 shots as they scored 25 total points in the 37-25 loss to the Lady Crusaders of Jesuit.
“It’s hard, I mean it’s very diffcult just because the girls were working very hard getting to the basket,” said McNary Celtic Head Coach Derick Handley. “You know, it’s just tough when you outshoot a team 42 to 29, we had 10 turnovers they had 17 so we beat them on the turnover side of it.
“Just not getting the shot to fall and it’s really hard as a player and us as coaches to keep their heads up. Keep them believing that they’re doing the right thing and they did do the right thing. We played correctly tonight, we just didn’t make enough shots.”
That was the was the easiest answer said Handley, they battled but the ball didn’t bounce their way Wednesday.
But that defense though, oh my.
They held a Jesuit squad that could hit 50, 60 points on a frequent basis as they have this season to six first quarter points and 16 first half points as they held the Crusaders to 37 total points, their third lowest total of their season as McNary battled through the adversity of Jesuit on the offensive end of the ball.
“It was great,” said Kailey Doutt. “I think it brought the energy up a lot, we got a few steals at the beginning of the game which brought us up a lot and gave us confidence and we needed it.
“We knew it was going to be a defensive game and that defense was going to win the game so we focused a lot in practice on executing defensive and helping guarding the big girls and I think we executed it pretty well tonight.”
Doutt scored five of the Celtics seven field goals as the junior finished with 13 points in the loss and seven in the fourth quarter as Doutt and the junior class that features her and Paige Downer look to take over for Sydney Hunter and the seniors who are graduating this year.
“It’s going to be really important,” said Doutt on how the junior class can built for next year as seniors. “We’re losing key players in our offense and defense and we’re going to have to communicate a lot…which I’m not used to, so I know a lot of the girls aren’t so it’s going to be hard.
“But we’re going to get the younger up and just work on it next year the whole time because it’s going to be different.”
Handley knows and told his team that they’ll miss the seniors this year heading into next year; but that the message and shoes that Hunter, Jaylene Montano and Gabby Schmit is something worth remembering entering the off-season as they look to build from this year.
“The growth and maturity of our players have been one of the things I’ve most proud of,” said Handley.”We’ve had seniors like Sydney, like Jaylne even a girl like Gabby who, minutes aren’t many, but she’s always ready to go, she’s always in the game.
“That leadership and a game like this is really important that they really believe up until the final buzzer that we have a chance to win it. TO have girls like that, keeping us up, that helps a lot.”
Knowing that the shoes to fill of a once-in-a-career girl in Hunter being a D-1 athlete is hard, but the development of this team from last year to this year and this year entering this off-season has Handley and his girls in an unique position entering next season to make another postseason push out of the Greater Valley Conference.
“We lost three really good seniors from a year ago and girls like Kailey had to step up and be a scorer for us this year,” said Handley. “Kailey is more of a quiet leader, lead by example. But we have a girl like Paige who’s willing to talk, is a great teammate. We have a sophomore, Abby Hawley…I mean her progression this year is by far the most improved player. She started as a seventh girl , by the end of the year she’s starting, one of our Top 3.
“So there is that development, that growth that’s occurring. We got girls, your never replacing Sydeny, you just won’t. Division-1 girls come around once a career, so we understand that. But we’re going to have girls who are going to step up, they’re going to be a good team. Put in the work in the off season and we know that and just try to retool.”
Retooling and improvement through hard work. Sounds like a recipe for success!
MCNARY SCORERS- Doutt-13. Hunter-6. Hawley-3. Lao-2.Downer-1
Follow Jeremy McDonald on Twitter at @J_McDonald81 or like jmcdonaldmedia on Facebook!