By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– McNary’s Avery Buss just had one of those games in which it started nightmarish, but at the end of it, it all ended up working out for the good.
In the first half of the Celtics 52-50 comeback victory over South Salem, Buss quickly picked up four fouls in a relatively physical first half by the McNary defense. Sending the junior to the bench for much of the second quarter and the third. For her Celtic teammates, they were down 28-25 at halftime and were down as much as 38-29 to the Saxons before making their march back.
“We worked hard, worked together and we played really great defense as a team. That really kept us in this game. Our defense really played in clutch and not fouling as much in the second half that’s for sure,” smiles Buss with McNary down 40-39 going to the fourth quarter.
South Salem freshman Brook Tate paced the Saxons in the second half with 17 points in the back-end as the underclassmen did all she could to help her squad stay ahead in the fourth quarter. Answering Ava Rubio’s basket three minutes into the fourth quarter with back-to-back baskets and kept the Saxon lead to three at the 4:26 mark at 46-43 following a Buss two-pointer.
“We started off strong, last time we played them we were down more than ten points. But this time we were up and then we just ended it a little bit weaker than we started,” Tate said. “Just playing hard all four quarters, 100-percent all the time.. I didn’t think we brought it all four quarters, that was the biggest thing and free throws.”
South Salem went 6-for-22 at the free throw line and 0-for-4 in the fourth quarter that aided McNary’s comeback as Buss made her presence known in the final 1:46 of the game. Scoring the Celtics final five points, two from two free throws at the1:46 mark that made it 49-48 and an ‘And-One’ that pushed McNary ahead 52-50 with 11.8 seconds remaining in a game where Buss ultimately finishing with ten points in Friday’s Central Valley Conference game at South Salem High School.
Knowing she had only one foul to give, Buss played a clean quarter to remain out on the court; she was able to do so to help the Celtics to a 6-1 league record.
“I knew when I went in, there was no way I could foul because that would be it and I needed to be there for my team,” Buss said. “When we work together, we work perfectly. We work great together and that we always need to be working together.”
South Salem had a chance to force overtime or get the win at the buzzer, but couldn’t get a clean enough shot off with McNary picking up a crucial defensive rebound to help seal the two-point road victory. Setting up an important game with West Salem Tuesday before they head to Canby next Friday for a non-league game with the Cougars.
Tate finished the game with 22 points and ten rebounds for South Salem, who head to play North Salem on Tuesday. Maggie Lapray contributed another eight points for the Saxons while Rubio led the Celtics with 14 points and six rebounds.