By Jeremy McDonald
KEIZER, Ore.– The question became, up 13 entering the fourth quarter without Justin Scoggins and Holden Whipple, could West Salem avoid the Groundhog Day Effect in their 66-63 win Tuesday night?
Scoggins has been battling a pre-stress fracture since about Christmas while Whipple’s been out since early on in the third quarter with a back issue that left the Titan Post on the bench for the remainder of the game. Up 55-42 entering the fourth quarter, here was West Salem.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys who’ve never played Varsity basketball in their life and stepped up tonight, that’s cool to see guys step up and fill roles,” said West Salem’s Jackson Lowery.
Lowery scored 15 points while Alec Dyson led the Titans with 23 points, and as strong as they played without one of the State’s guards and without one of their big bodies down in the trenches, the Celtics came charging.
Meithof had a quiet nine points entering the fourth quarter as guys like Jando Gonzales and Junior Nunez kept McNary within shouting distance throughout the game. But in the fourth quarter, one of the other State Best came in clutch for his squad with ten fourth quarter points with the score got closer and closer during the final eight minutes.
For a four-game stretch this year, the Celtics had that ‘Clutch’-factor pulling off four consecutive wins by one-point. One of those wins came against the Titans at West Salem on January 17 64-63 as McNary came back from 15-points down to win.
And as Gunner Smedema hit a three to pull McNary to within two of West Salem 65-63 with 1:15 left in the game after being down as much as 16 during the third quarter, it seemed like the Celts were about to pull off some Bill Murray Groundhog Day, Déjà vu to the Titans Tuesday night in Keizer.
“We fought to get back into the game, but I think if we come out with that energy that we came into the fourth quarter (for) the whole game, I think we can win easily next time. But we just got to work on having that energy the whole game,” said Meithof. “It just teaches us to come out stronger and harder instead of waiting until the end of the game to come and try to win.”
Meithof finished with 19 points in the game for McNary, Gonzales added another 11 for the Celtics who will look to rebound against Bend in Bend Friday evening. McNary currently sits in a two-way tie for second in the Mountain Valley Conference with Summit at 6-3.
For West Salem, who started league 3-4, now sit 5-4 in fourth-place in the league standings after seeing Meithof’s and Gonzales last second heaves fall short at the buzzer to force overtime. The win was huge considering Sprague is a game behind them now, a loss would’ve tied them with the Olympians, but now sit a game behind the Celtics and Storm for second-place.
“It’s a big win. We’re going to get back rolling and keep playing our brand of basketball. We’re going to come back to practice tomorrow ready,” said Lowery. “We just got to keep playing our game. Whether we’re up ten, down ten. Up 20, down 20, we got to keep playing our game and keep playing basketball.”