By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Earlier this season, Ryan Kirch, McNary’s head basketball coach, was watching film with the team and let it slip that sophomore Mathew Ismay was the squad’s “garbage man.”
“He gets offensive rebounds and put backs, easy lay-ins at the rim, gets to the free throw line. He does all the little things to put himself in those situations and he’s incredibly smart. He’s just a blue collar, hard working player – like a garbage man,” Kirch said.
His teammates laughed, but the nickname stuck. From here on out, it might just be the nickname other players begin striving for. Ismay was named Defensive Player of the Year in
the Greater Valley Conference last week.
Ismay’s name is infrequently mentioned among the team’s top scorers, averaging a little less than six points per game. Take a look a little further down the line and the big picture becomes clearer. Ismay had 88 rebounds this season, 38 assists and 24 steals.
Ismay said defense has been his focus since joining the Celtic ranks.
“It’s the part of the game that’s overlooked. If you let the person you’re guarding score more than you do on offense, it’s all for nothing,” Ismay said. “Part of it is athleticism, but most of it’s effort. One slip up and that’s it.”
His approach and attitude have bred respect among teammates and opponents, even though his role on the team could easily be overlooked.
“The older players appreciate how he competes. Coaches in the league consistently commented on how tough he is and how hard he works,” Kirch said.
Ismay was also an honorable mention in all-league selections, but he had his sights set on the defender award.
“It means a lot to me. It was a surprise, but if there is an award I wanted that was the one,” Ismay said.
As far as the future goes, he’d like to win it again, but he remains focused on being part of the team.
“Being league champions again is more important right now,” he said.