By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Much to the relief of players and coaches, the McNary High School boys varsity basketball team was able to rebound from a loss to the South Salem Saxons last week.
“They expect to win games and when they lose they’re upset, but the part I like is how coachable they’ve been after the two losses we’ve had,” said Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach.
The Saxons’ win over the Celtics Tuesday, Jan. 5, gave South the lead slot in the Greater Valley Conference. McNary settled into second place.
“It’s always tough losing, but we took away a lot of things we need to do on the defensive end. We have to cut turnovers in the long run and that’s something we’re still working on,” said Mathew Ismay, a McNary junior.
McNary didn’t spend long nursing their wounds. Kirch and assistant coach Marc McAvoy said the team had one of its best practices the following day.
“(The loss) really refocused us and motivated us to come out and have great practices,” said junior Cade Goff.
By Friday, Jan. 8, the Celtics were back to hitting on all cylinders, taking a 60-52 win over Sprague High School on the road.
McNary had a 15-13 lead after the first frame and extended it to 36-24 by halftime. The Keizer team was able to ride the lead through a low-scoring fourth quarter to take the win,
“We had room for improvement, but we stayed competitive. Our leaders led and the mistakes we made were made going hard and fast,” said Kirch. “The speed at which we played was right where we wanted to be.”
Senior Harry Cavell led the team with 19 points, Ismay put up 15 and Trent Van Cleave had seven. Goff led the team on the boards with eight rebounds, Ismay had seven.
“Coming back from a loss you always have something to prove, and we were determined not to underestimate them,” said Ismay.
It will be almost two full weeks before McNary gets another bite at the Saxon apple – and it will have to maintain an even keel through some tough opponents – but Goff expected the Celts to be a different team next time around.
“We have to play with a bit of a chip on our shoulder. They next time we face (South), they’re going to think they can beat us but it definitely will not happen again,” he said.