By Jeremy McDonald
KEIZER, Ore.– You play the whole 32 minutes for a reason.
Down 25-8 after one quarter with nothing going their way, McNary came out for the second with a fiery passion that got them back into the game by halftime.
Defense shutdown the Bend shooters that went off in the opening frame with three three-pointers, two coming from Justin Kerr as Kerr finished with 16 points. Not just shut them down, the Celtics defense shut them out when their offense went off for 16 second half points to pull McNary to within one at halftime 25-24.
“We switched up our intensity, we became the aggressor instead of passive and letting them dictate the tempo. We ran in transition and we got buckets, that helped us boost our spirits for sure,” said Griffin Oliveria.
But the question became entering the second half was how this game was going to end? Did McNary have enough juice to finish the job now they’re right here or will the Lava Bears shut the door early as they tried to do in the first half?
Well, after a slow out of the gate in the second half, the Celtics settled in and took a brief 31-28 lead before Brian Warinner drained a three to tie things up with 5:41 left in the third quarter. It was on of seven three’s made for Bend as the Lava Bears shot 21 from downtown Tuesday night.
“Probably the first minute of the third quarter, we definitely came out a little flat. Then we realized, ‘hey, if we let off at all, they’re going to win this game. So we got to bring it’. Our defense won us that game,” said Boston Smith as the defense held Bend to 34 points after that first quarter. “It was pretty difficult, I think we did a good job. Towards the end we started trading points, but I think we locked them up on defense pretty well.”
Smith and Nate Meithof led the charge offensively in the second half. Metihof had 20 of his 26 points in the second half and Smith had 15 of his 22 in the second half as McNary led 44-38 entering the fourth quarter.
The Celtics saw their lead touch 12 early in the fourth before pushing it back to double-digits later on in the frame, rolling to 2-1 in league and 9-4 overall.
And with McKay Friday, the game Tuesday was a good test for them to be able to fight back from a deficit and continue it into the second half.
“I really thought we brought it on the defensive side, I mean they didn’t score a single point in that second quarter that was huge,” said Smith on the turnaround. “We kept eating away at that lead until we got back in it.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald