By Jeremy McDonald
GRESHAM, Ore.– It was a good learning experience for the McKay Girls Basketball team for sure as they left the court Wednesday night with the scoreboard in favor of Barlow High School 51-48.
For a team still learning how to win games, this road game certainly was a stepping stone to what is to come moving forward.
Up 12 entering the second half, there was a sense of ‘oh wow’ when they looked up on the scoreboard with it showing the Scots up 29-17. Something that Head Coach Jim White said it was a good learning lesson when they were in the locker room after the game.
“That’s what we talked about after the game, they’re not use to having a lead like that and that’s one of the things we talked about is not looking at the scoreboard. We’re 0-0 going into the second half,” said White. “We knew the press was coming and we told them not to panic, we practiced against it and first half we broke it pretty well.
“But they put a couple of players that didn’t play in the first half, and that number 4 (name) she was pretty long and we panicked and we reverted back to our old ways. One-hand lazy passes, not looking up passing the ball to an open teammate and we just panicked. We still hung in there for quite awhile.”
The biggest thing White was looking for after the game was how they reacted after the game. Were they upset or were they eh about it? White and his staff saw the forward when they walked in after the game.
“With us, winning is new to us. First half, I don’t think we’ve ever been up by that much in the first half. So the second half, I don’t think we knew how to keep our composure and keep a level head. So when it came down to the wire, none of us have been in that situation like that,” described Leva Mike on the game. “It was an experience for us, I’m hoping we’ll be prepared for it so next time we’ll be ready.”
Entering the fourth quarter, McKay’s once 12-point lead was down to two early in the fourth at 40-38 before they pushed it to 43-38 thanks to the Bruins press that worked dividends for Barlow in opportunities on the other end of the court.
The Bruins found a groove with their big post girl in Libby Mathis starting in the third that carried over into the fourth quarter, Mathis made the most of her opportunities scoring 12 of her 16 points in the second half that included the go-ahead basket with 2:17 left in the game.
It was now 46-45 Barlow. The Bruins were riding a 30-17 advantage after McKay’s first half start. Leva Mike and Anita Lao had chances to had the Scots back the lead with no luck.
But the Lady Scots weren’t folding and though there was glimpses of panic, McKay showed some promise moving forward with glimpses that they’re learning on the run with these tough situations.
Defensive rebounds, taking the timeouts Coach White was calling to try to calm down. Down 49-46, Mike drove to the hole looking for an And-One opportunity. She got the basket with 4.7 seconds left but not the foul she was looking for.
McKay forced the Bruins to use a timeout and Barlow forced the Scots to foul them on the next chance they had to inbound to all but ice the game as Mike tried to heave a midcourt shot to try to force overtime.
At 2-2, McKay has already got a taste of winning and what it feels like. For a program where winning was rare in recent years, they were a few plays shy of winning their third-straight game for the first time since the start of the 2013-2014 season where they started the year 4-0.
It’s a work in progress however as they learn to play as one in situations like this and going through the gauntlet of how to do it moving forward.
“I think at the end of it a lot of us started playing selfish basketball, we weren’t really passing the ball and trusting each other as it came down to it,” said Mike who finished with 22 points. “We all wanted the last bucket and we all wanted to win the game for our team and what I think we learned from this is to trust each other and to play together as a team. That’s how we win games.”
Lao had nine points, Danica Cheremnov had another eight, Diana Cruz added seven and Bailey Bryant had two points in the game.