By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
A tie at the end of the first half in a game between the McNary High School and McMinnville High School’s boys varsity basketball teams ended in a 57-42 win for the Celts, Friday, Feb. 13.
The Grizzlies were first to the board, but a pair of quick buckets by McNary senior Devon Dunagan gave the Keizer team a 6-5 lead.
“We played really well and had a few too many turnovers, while they made some good adjustments,” said Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach.
Both teams turned the ball over on several possessions in a low-scoring 11-7 first period, but McNary’s Harry Cavell, Mathew Ismay and Dunagan drained baskets from the line to take control going into the second period.
As the half wound down, Celt Cole Thomas put in one from the foul line and another from the paint to help McNary hold on to a four-point lead, but the Grizzlies had the game tied up at 21-21 with 1:45 left in the half. McMinnville went up 23-21 on their next possession, but Dunagan laid one in to knot the game before retiring to the locker room.
“I think we closed pretty well and we had a good field goal percentage in the second half even though we weren’t there in the first half,” said Celt junior Trent VanCleave.
Ismay put McNary up 25-23 as the second half started and a tougher defensive stand on the part of the Celts kept McMinnville six points. The Celts outscored the Grizzlies 18-13 in the final frame for the win. Midway through the fourth period, VanCleave, a point guard and McNary offense runner, took a hard fall but returned to the game by the end of the night.
“I jumped out and my legs got kicked out from under me. It was all back, and there was a big knot, but I didn’t want to sit out and get stiffer.,” VanCleave said.
Cavell and Dunagan had 13 points each on the night; Thomas had eight; Tregg Peterson, who was kept out of the paint for most of the night, had seven points; Ismay put in six; Cade Goff and VanCleave had four each; and Connor Goff hit two from the foul line.
Three days prior, Tuesday, Feb. 10, the West Salem High School Titans had McNary on the ropes for much of the game.
“We didn’t start with good energy and it wasn’t there for the longest time. Sometime in the fourth quarter, something clicked. Maybe we were in desperation mode,” VanCleave said.
The Titans outscored the Celts 17-7 in the first frame, but McNary edged back into the game with a 15-11 second period. West held on to a 46-34 lead at the third frame buzzer. Only a runaway fourth quarter saved the game. The Celtics poured in 26 points to West’s 14.
“We were certainly nervous. We shot terribly even though we seemed to get ones that looked good,” Kirch said. “On the other hand, West is a good team and guarded well.”
The rally tied up the game just in time to send the contest into overtime where the Celts outscored West 8-2.
Peterson scored 26 points for McNary; Dunagan put in 20; Cavell had 12; VanCleave had nine; and Cole Thomas and Connor Goff had two each.