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Celtics suffer first league loss

Of the Keizertimes

SALEM—Sprague senior Teagan Quitoriano entered last Friday’s game against McNary averaging 32 points per game.

The Celtics held Quitoriano to five in the first two and a half quarters but the Olympians finished the game with nine 3-pointers, including a back-breaker at the end of the first half to give McNary its first loss in league play, 70-62.

“From a game plan standpoint, that’s everything you could want,” McNary head coach Ryan Kirch said of holding Quitoriano to five points in the first half. “When you do that, you pack the middle a little bit and leave some outside shots open and they hit a few more outside shots than we did. And really that was it.”

Quitoriano finished with 20 points, which included going 9-for-10 from the free throw line in the second half. But he also made his mark on the game when he wasn’t scoring.

“We tried to have a guy in front of him and a guy behind him anytime he caught the ball on the block,” Kirch said. “We were running a double (team) at him and really force him to make some decisions. Credit to him, he passed the ball well. When you’re a guy that’s used to being dominant, a lot of times you’ll force plays but he did a nice job of kicking it out to the open shooters and they made shots.

“Very rarely can you find a guy that scores five points and really dictate the entire game. Because he’s there, you’ve got to take an extra step to him and everyone’s got to adjust to that, credit to him. Great players win games and he did a great job tonight.”

McNary led 19-14 early in the first period but Sprague answered with two 3-pointers within a minute and a half to take a 22-21 lead. A putback by Ricardo Gardelli tied the game at 24-24 but two free throws gave the Olympians the lead for good.

A 3-pointer in the final seconds of the second period by Sprague junior Jailen Hammer put the Olympians ahead 35-28 at halftime. Hammer finished with 25 points to lead all scorers.

Two more 3-pointers early in the third quarter stretched Sprague’s lead to 43-33.

McNary got within 47-42 on a Lucas Garvey 3-point play with 2:04 remaining in the third period but never any closer.

“That was a good, hard, physical game,” Kirch said. “That’s a very tough place to play. Coach (Steve) Masten does such a great job. Our guys are disappointed obviously but I thought we competed and played hard and battled and just a couple more shots went in for them than they did for us.”

Senior Andrew Jones led McNary with 15 points and seven rebounds.

“He’s really put on a lot of weight in his upper body,” Kirch said. “He’s put a lot of work in the weight room. I just told him to get to the rim. We work on a bump and finish drill and we want to play through contact at the rim. I thought early in the game, we settled for one pass shots and it’s a tough thing because we want our kids to shoot when they feel in rhythm but we also have to ball fake and get inside and be more aggressive. I thought Andrew did a really nice job of that in the second half.”

Chandler Cavell added 14 points and eight rebounds. Garvey finished with 11 points.

McNary faced a Sprague team that won the Greater Valley Conference last season and returned four starters.

“The scoreboard doesn’t necessarily tell us how much we’ve improved,” Kirch said. “This is a really good team and we’re going to play other really good teams and we’ll have a chance to play them again and they can certainly do a lot of things. Sometimes the scoreboard says you won by 25 or 30. This for us is a better growing experience. We’re better because of this game.

“I haven’t doubted really our competitiveness. We’ve challenged our guys. We’ve just got to get better at a few areas, shot selections and spacing and how we do a couple of things. I’m certainly proud of our guys. They’re disappointed but we’ll walk out of here with our heads held high.”

The Celtics play Clackamas, defending 6A state runner-up, in the first round of the Capitol City Classic on Monday, Dec. 18 at 8:30 p.m. The 16-team tournament runs through Friday, Dec. 22.

McNary is back at home on Wednesday, Dec. 27 against Tualatin at 7 p.m.