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Day: December 4, 2014

Lady Celt basketball returns with 3 teams

McNary freshman Kailey Doutt puts up a shot in practice Friday, Nov. 21. Doutt is expected to play with the varsity team. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)
McNary freshman Kailey Doutt puts up a shot in practice Friday, Nov. 21. Doutt is expected to play with the varsity team. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Derick Handley, the new head coach of the McNary High School girls basketball program, has many reasons to be excited this season.

It starts with him transferring to McNary from McKay High School, where he headed up the Royal Scot program. It’s the first time in two years the Lady Celts have had a coach in the building during school hours, and its prompted a larger turnout for girls basketball.

“We’re going to have three teams out there for the first time in a while. We even have enough for a freshman squad,” Handley said.

On top of that, five of the varsity players – senior Lauren Hudgins, juniors Vanessa Hayes, Kaelie Flores and Madi Hingston, and sophomore Sydney Hunter – are coming off a hugely successful volleyball season. Handley thinks the success there is going to translate to success on the basketball court.

The 6-foot-1 Hudgins took a year off last season, but Handley is planning to ease her back in as a tall post to fill the shoes of Reina Strand, who is out for the season with an injury.

“We want to go easy on her, but she’s already brought a lot of the work ethic from the volleyball season to the court,” said Handley.

Hudgins’ fellow seniors on the team are Jasmine Ernest, Emma Jones and Madie Rohl.

“Jasmine, Madi and Emma are all vocal leaders, but they also just work their tail off. They’re the kind of kids who don’t want to have any regrets and they’re pushing everybody else to have the type of season they want to go out on,” Handley said.

 Like her coach, Rohl said there’s plenty of excitement to spread around.

“I’m excited to see Jasmine on defense, I’m excited to see Madi’s shot because it’s improved even more over last year and I’m happy to have Sydney back for her sophomore year. She’s tough and I think we hold her to a higher standard,” Rohl said.

Handley’s presence and ideas for the program have inspired the team to work harder all around, she added.

“We’re kind of hammering on defense in the practice. But, with a new coach and new teams in the conference, we’re all just keeping an open mind,” said Jones.

The Greater Valley Conference includes three teams new to the league this season in Forest Grove, McMinnville and West Albany high schools. The Vikings and Grizzlies arrive in the GVC having placed fourth and seventh, respectively, in the Pacific Conference last year.

Like most other sports, the Bulldogs do girls basketball well. After struggling slightly to end the season with a 17-12 record, the Lady Bulldogs went on to take fourth in the state tournament.

“They’re a good team, so everyone is going to have to raise their game,” Jones said.

While the Bulldogs are carrying a legacy in their gym bags, Rohl said the change-up is a welcome one.

“It was feeling pretty sedentary with certain teams always taking the top spots. We’re hoping the new teams will shake that up a bit,” she said.

McNary finished second in the Central Valley Conference last year with a 6-4 record behind league champs South Salem High School. The Lady Celts lost to South three times during the 2013-14 season, but Handley said the biggest change the girls could make is shutting the door on the past.

“The biggest goal is to make the playoffs and, before that, you want to win a league title. We are in the same league with South Salem and they’ve got the reputation and won league several times, but we feel top-to-bottom that we can be pretty great, too,” Handley said.

The Lady Celts host their first game of the season against South Eugene Wednesday, Dec. 3. Tip off is 7 p.m.

Keizer Miracle of Christmas Lights Display returning

KEIZERTIMES/File photo
KEIZERTIMES/File photo

The Keizer Miracle of Christmas Lights Display will feature a return of the caroling tent and contests launched through the display’s Facebook page this year.

The display begins at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, and cars will be roaming the neighborhood from 6 to 10 p.m. through Dec. 26. The route is about 3.5 miles long, and can take several hours to complete on busy weekends. Snow-Cop barricades will lead drivers through the neighborhood.

The tradition, which raises money and food for the Marion Polk Food Share, draws eyes from around the region. It’s expected that nearly 20,000 vehicles will pass through the neighborhood.

There’s no admission fee, but the event is a fundraiser for hungry families in the mid-Willamette Valley, and donations are always welcome.

“Our goal this year is 22,000 pounds of food and $20,000 in monetary donation,” said Brigette Eisele, one of the coordinators this season. Last year, volunteers collected $19,297 and 21,272 pounds of food.

Cans and non-perishable food donations along with cash are welcomed. A donation site will be set up on Mistwood Drive Northeast.

In addition to route changes, local businesses are sponsoring some nights of the event.

“We are working with a couple local businesses to provide coupons for things such as a free ice cream, or free hot drink for donations of 10 cans of food or more,” Eisele said.

Businesses interested in participating can send an e-mail to [email protected] addressed to the attention of Gerald Nichols for more information.

Younger visitors are encouraged to keep an eye out for the Gubser Gatore, who will be moved to a new house about once a week. The intent is to supply younger visitors with a Where’s Waldo-ish game and provide incentive to drive through more than once.

Additional contests will be launched each week on the Gubser Miracle of Christmas Lights Display facebook page.

A caroling tent will return for the second year, but is being moved to Mistwood Drive for more visibilit. Many slots have already been filled for the month, but those interested in the few that remain can contact Eisele at [email protected]

Organizers remind attendees that there are no public restrooms available, and visitors should keep their headlights on at all times while driving through. It is a residential neighborhood, so please be aware and courteous to pedestrians and residents trying to get in and out of driveways.

Visitors wishing to take photos in front of the displays are encouraged to stay on sidewalks and out of yards.

The display is also walkable, with sidewalks throughout the Gubser neighborhood. If you choose to walk it, please park at either Whiteaker Middle School, 1605 Lockhaven Drive NE, or at Gubser Elementary School, 6610 14th Avenue NE.