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Celtics win double overtime thriller

Of the Keizertimes

SALEM—It took double overtime and contributions from two players that a week ago were deep on McNary’s bench to end a six-game losing streak to South Salem, as the Celtics defeated the Saxons 65-64 on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

McNary led 64-59 with 1:30 remaining in the second overtime. But South Salem guard Jaden Nielsen-Skinner made two free throws and then a 3-pointer to tie the game at 64-64 with 24 seconds to go.

Chandler Cavell then went to the free throw line with 8.3 seconds remaining. He made the first but missed the second.

Nielsen-Skinner’s shot at the buzzer from half court was then just short.

“I’d never beat South Salem on the varsity squad so it felt amazing,” said Cavell, who led McNary with 20 points. “I needed that one. Andrew Jones, with his stellar defense on the last shot. He got a hand on that. I think if he didn’t get a hand on that, that was going in.”

McNary junior Alfredo Villarreal and sophomore Junior Walling came off the bench for the Celtics and played most of the fourth quarter and all of both overtimes.

“We thought Alfredo was one of our quicker guards and with their lineup we had to match that,” McNary head coach Ryan Kirch said. “Junior had done a really nice job rebounding. I thought his physical strength inside and he’s a little bit quicker than Boston (Smith).”

Walling gave McNary a 53-51 lead with 1:15 remaining in regulation and then pulled down a defensive rebound before South Salem made two free throws to send the game to overtime. Villarreal scored four points during the second overtime period.

“I think we’ve got a toughness and competitiveness that we haven’t had in a while and that’s credit to our young guys that came in fearless,” Cavell said. “We had two guys that were playing JV two games ago come in and finish the game for us and play really well. That’s a tribute to their toughness and competitiveness.”

Villarreal, who entered the game for the first time late in the third quarter, just wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.  “I knew if I went in I had to play my absolute hardest and I couldn’t play scared and I just had to be aggressive.”  Villarreal said. “It was time for me to step up. Coach Kirch was giving me the opportunity to show myself. I saw the lanes and I took them. I got what the defense gave me. I didn’t try to force anything. This is the best win I’ve ever had in my whole life and being actually a part of it, it’s crazy.”

McNary trailed 20-19 at halftime as both offensives struggled. But play picked up in the third quarter as the Celtics and Saxons combined to make seven 3-pointers and McNary led 42-40 entering the fourth.

“They had a really good game plan,” Kirch said of South Salem. “When you have two dynamic guards (Nielsen-Skinner and Tyler Wadleigh) like that, they are pretty tough. They got us out of our game plan early and did a really nice job defensively and got us out of our rhythm. Credit to our guys for having to adjust a little bit.”

McNary led 46-43 with 6:24 remaining in regulation but South Salem made two 3-pointers to take a 49-46 lead. Cavell answered with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 49-49 and the Celtics never trailed again.  Lucas Garvey finished with 15 points. Jones added 11.

The win was McNary’s seventh in a row this season.

The Celtics won at McMinnville 60-51 on Friday, Jan. 12.

Cavell had 26 points, five rebounds and two assists. Jones added 12 points and eight rebounds.

McNary, 12-4 overall, 7-1 in league play and No. 5 in the OSAA power rankings, return to action on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at North Salem.