Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Category: Local Sports

McNary competes at district meet

By MATT RAWLINGS
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary boys and girls swim teams competed in the Mountain Valley Conference District Meet on Friday, Feb 8. But due to unforeseen circumstances, this was no ordinary meet.

Originally, the schools were supposed to swim over the course of two days (Feb. 8 and Feb. 9) at Bend High School.

The weather, however, had other plans.

With snow covering the roads of the Santiam Pass, the Salem-Keizer School District announced on the morning of the event that all athletic trips over to Bend would be cancelled. 

However, the SKSD, along with the rest on the MVC, was able to call an audible. 

It was determined that the Salem-Keizer schools (McNary, McKay, Sprague, South Salem and West Salem) would swim a one-day meet at the Kroc Center while the Bend schools (Bend, Mountain View and Summit) would swim in a separate meet over the mountain. 

Over the weekend, OSAA officials would calculate the times and determine which swimmers qualified for the state meet.

It was not an ideal scenario, but McNary head coach Casey Lewin was proud of the way his team dealt with the unique circumstances. 

“I thought we handled the situation well, considering how much was unknown Friday morning,” Lewin said. “The week leading up to districts, we were focused on our races and doing what needed to be done, regardless of where we swam. Friday morning was stressful for everyone involved, but we cleared our heads and were ready to race.”

When it was all said and done, the Celtic girls placed fourth with 194.5 points and the McNary boys placed fifth with 220 points.

But even though there were some close calls, both McNary teams were unable to qualify a swimmer for the state meet.

“We were very close and just missed out on a couple relays and individuals,” Lewin said. “We did everything we needed to on our end with our swims and felt like we would be in good position to get some swims at the state meet.”

McNary’s biggest state hopefuls for the boys were Kyle Hooper and Harrison Vaughn. Unfortunately for the Celtics, both of them failed to swim up to their potential. 

“Harrison and Kyle still held their own, but didn’t have their best swims,” Lewin said.

Hooper took sixth in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:09.00 and seventh in the 500-freestyle (5:13.05) — top two times qualify for state in most instances. 

Vaughn, on the other hand, took eighth in the 100-breaststroke (1:06.35) 

Both Hooper and Vaughn, along with Wyatt Sherwood and Jabez Rhoades, were less than two seconds away from earning a state spot in the 200-free relay, but had to settle for third place (1:36.51).

Rhoades was the only other McNary boy to earn a top-eight finish, taking sixth in the 50-free (23.97). 

The McNary girls 200-medley relay team of Alex Beard, Bella Beard, Paris Boyd and Alyssa Garvey was also nearly able to nab a berth at the state meet. But even though they blew away the competition against the Salem schools, their time of 1:56.89 wasn’t enough as Bend and Mountain View’s relay teams came away with faster finishes. 

Boyd came back shortly after the relay to swim her best time of the season in the 50-free (25.98), which was good enough for seventh place.

“Boyd had some huge splits in her relays, and her individual swims were also great. She was able to break (26 seconds) in the 50-free, which is great for a freshman,” Lewin said.

Alex Beard was the only girls swimmer for McNary to earn a pair of top-eight finishes as she placed sixth in both the 200-IM (2:19.97) and the 500-free (5:32.63). 

Bella Beard had the highest individual placing out of all Celtic swimmers with her fifth-place finish in the 100-breast (1:11.66).

Despite not qualifying for state, there is a lot to build on for this McNary program going into next season as both teams ended the dual season with a 5-2 record. 

Both squads also return the vast majority of their respective teams in 2019-20.

“Our season was very successful. A large team, a lot of raw, young, talent and strong leadership from our upperclassmen,” Lewin said. “I’m hoping we can take this and use it as motivation for next season. We’ll be back and even faster.”

Keizer hoopers receive All-American recognition

By MATT RAWLINGS
Of the Keizertimes

The state of Oregon had 24 prep girls basketball players nominated for the 42nd McDonald’s All-American game this spring, and four of them hail from right here in Keizer.

Senior hoopers Ana Coronado, Bailey Hittner, Trinity Phipps and Abigail Hawley each received consideration for the annual all-star contest.

Coronado, Hittner and Phipps all play basketball at Blanchet High School while Hawley is a star at McNary High School.

The girls were put up for recognition by coaches and administrators at Blanchet and McNary. After going through all the local nominees from each state, the national committee for the McDonald’s event settled on selecting 24 candidates from Oregon. 

Even though the girls don’t play on the same high school team, their friendships go all the way back to fifth grade when they played youth basketball together for Keizer Youth Basketball Association (KYBA). 

Coronado, Hittner, Phipps and Hawley all played together until their freshmen year. Even during high school, the girls still play on the same Amateur American Union (AAU) team called the Mid-Valley Monarchs. 

Ron Hittner — who is the father of Bailey and the head coach at Blanchet — started coaching all four of these girls in fifth grade and has continued to coach them at the AAU level as well. 

Seeing them grow into the excellent players and people that they are has been a gift for Coach Hittner.  

“Their personal athletic achievements speak for themselves, but they deserve this because they are all great girls,” Coach Hittner said. “They work incredibly hard both on the basketball floor and in the classroom.”

All four girls have been crucial to their respective team’s success so far this season.

ABIGAIL HAWLEY (MCNARY)

Hawley is in her fourth year playing for the McNary varsity team and leads the squad in scoring at 13 points per game. 

She also leads the team in three-point field goals (23) and helped the Celtics start the Mountain Valley Conference season with six straight wins.

She received second-team all-Greater Valley Conference recognition last season and played a big role in the Celtics reaching the postseason. Hawley also received an honorable mention nod her sophomore year.

“I definitely couldn’t be where I’m at right now if I didn’t have the support of my coaches and teammates,” Hawley said. “I’ve really been working on my leadership skills and keeping my team excited about what we’ve done so far this season.”

What her coach says:

“She is just a joy to coach. She works hard every day,” McNary head coach Elizabeth Doran said. “She is very consistent on both ends of the floor.”

Other Sports: Hawley was a first-team all-league performer for the McNary girls soccer team in the fall. 

TRINITY PHIPPS (BLANCHET)

Phipps has been a starter for Blanchet in each of the last three seasons and is in her second year as a team captain. 

She is second on the team in scoring, averaging 12 ppg. She is also pulling down three rebounds a game and shooting 48 percent from the field. 

Phipps earned second-team all-PacWest Conference honors last season.

“It’s a big honor to be nominated,” Phipps said. “It’s pretty cool that all four of us have gotten recognition.”

What her coach says:

“Ever since fifth grade, Trinity has been one of the most flexible players on the team,” Coach Hittner said. “She has really come in to her own on the offense end, but she’s just a great all-around player.”

Other Sports: Phipps is the back-to-back 3A state champion in the 110-meter hurdles. She also placed third in the state in the triple jump. 

BAILEY HITTNER (BLANCHET)

Just like Phipps, Hittner has also been a three-year starter for the Cavaliers, as well as a team captain.

Hittner is one of the team leaders in assists (4.0 per game) and steals (2.1 per game). She shoots 81 percent from the foul line and has knocked down more than 80 shots from behind the arc over the course of her career.

She was a first-team all-conference and third-team all-state performer last season.

“I’ve always seen the McDonald’s All-American nominees and thought it was such a cool thing when I was growing up, so to be able to say that I am one of those is such a big honor, especially being able to share it with my best friends,” Hittner said. 

What her coach says:

“I think she is the best defensive player in the state when she puts her mind to it,” Coach Hittner said of his daughter. “She can shut down anyone. We always have her guard the best player on the other team.”

Other Sports: Hittner has won the 200-m event at the PacWest District track meet for the last three years.

ANA CORANADO (BLANCHET)

Regardless of level, Coronado has proven herself to be one of the most dynamic guards in the state over the course of her career. 

Not only is she her team’s top scorer at 14.2 ppg, she also leads the Cavaliers with 4.6 assists per game and an incredible 5.6 steals per contest. 

Coronado has been a starter for Blanchet in all four years of her high school career and has been a team captain for the last two seasons. She received first-team all-conference honors in her first three years as a members of the Cavaliers and was recognized as the conference player of the year last season. 

She also earned first-team all-state honors as a junior, as well as second-team all-state nods as a freshman and sophomore.

“This is a pretty big honor for me. It’s one of those things you see a lot on social media,” Coronado said. “Even if we don’t get chosen for the actual game, it’s still such a honor to receive recognition for the things we have done on the court and off the court.”

What her coach says:

“I believe she is the best player in 3A and I hope she gets player of the year this year because she deserves it,” Coach Hittner said. “She has been one of the best players in the state for the last four years and she is just a complete player on both ends of the court … I’m super proud of her and I’m super excited to see her play at the next level. She is going to help whichever school she goes to.”

Other Sports: Coronado has also received all-league recognition in volleyball and softball over the course of her decorated career at Blanchet. She also won the 400-m event at the PacWest District track meet last season. 

Coronado plans to play basketball in college at either George Fox University or Corban College.

Hawley, Coronado, Hittner and Phipps have all experienced incredible success in athletics in their careers. But even though their lives as star prep basketball players is coming to a close, they still have some more things they would like to accomplish.

After a slow start to the season, Hawley looks to lead  the youthful Celtics squad back to the postseason.

“We have a lot of determination as a team and we have grown so much,” Hawley said. 

Coronado, Hittner and Phipps each were instrumental pieces to Blanchet’s state title in 2017. After taking third place in 2018, these three seniors are hoping to end their high school basketball careers with a second state championship.

“We’ve already done it once, so we know we have the potential to do it again,” Coronado said. “This year, I think we are 10 times stronger than what we were as sophomores. We’re probably one of the most experienced teams in 3A.”

Blanchet enters the postseason as the number two ranked 3A team in the state with a 21-3 record, meaning that a second state title in three years is well within reach for the Cavaliers. 

“Having one last run where we get all the way to the end and finish it out would be the perfect way to end our basketball careers,” Phipps said.

8-year-old volunteer honored for work

By MATT RAWLINGS

Of the Keizertimes

Giving your time, energy and effort into volunteering can make an immeasurable difference in the lives of others, especially in a community like Keizer.

Autumn Siegel learned that value at a very young age.

In December, the 8-year old second grader from Weddle Elementary was presented the first ever Keizer Little League Concessions Volunteer of the Year award for her outstanding work in the concession stand during the 2018 baseball/softball season at KLL Park.

The award was to presented to Siegel by Clint Holland, who has been in charge of operating the concession stand for the last two years.

“Usually, we don’t let kids under the age of 14 work in the concession stand, but we made an exception for her because she was fabulous,” Holland said. “People can’t believe how good she is.”

With Siegel’s father, Ryan, being the softball director for KLL and her older sister, Violet, playing softball for KLL, Siegel spent quite a bit of time at the little league facility. 

One afternoon, Siegel walked by the concession stand and offered her assistance. 

After spending the rest of the day working in the stand, Siegel realized that it was something that she really enjoyed. 

“I just like getting orders and using the cash register on the iPad,” Siegel said. “Sometimes I got to do other jobs, like make pretzels … It was fun.”

It wasn’t long before Siegel was spending long hours volunteering at the stand multiple times per week. Her willingness to help was not only greatly appreciated, it was much needed. 

“We had kind of a hard time getting volunteers, but it seemed like whenever I was in trouble up there, Autumn was there to come to the rescue,” Holland said. “There were times where it was just her and me running the whole stand.”

Siegel’s mother, Shelly, also added: “She’s like a concession stand mascot. Everyone knows who Autumn is.”

Siegel even got to a point over the summer where she could work at the concession stand all by herself. 

Some people might be skeptical of an eight-year old running the cash register without the supervision of an adult. But Siegel always proved herself to be trustworthy and even showed other people how to use the system.

“Everything always balanced out, even when she was running it by herself,” Holland said. “She didn’t make mistakes.”

During a particular Saturday in July is when Siegel shined the brightest according to Holland. 

While KLL was hosting an all-day tournament, Holland was swamped at the concession stand. Fortunately, Siegel came to the rescue.

Over the course of 11 to 12 hours, Siegel’s efficiency and effectiveness behind the counter caught the eyes of all that went to the KLL concession stand that day, which allowed her to make $51 in tips.

“The public saw how hard she was working,” Holland said. “I can’t say enough about how helpful she was that day. It made me want to do something for her to show my appreciation.”

That is when Holland got the idea to make an award for Siegel to display his gratitude.

“I brought the idea up to someone on the (KLL) committee and they loved it,” Holland said. 

Holland got a gold plaque made and presented it to Siegel in front of her teacher and classmates right before the holiday break.

“I was really shy because I don’t really like when all the eyes are on me,” Siegel said. “I was a little nervous, but I was excited at the same time.”

“I actually cried a little bit when I gave to her,” Holland added. “She was so shocked.”

Siegel will be playing softball for KLL this spring, so she might not be in the concession stand as much as she was last year. But Siegel still plans to help out whenever she can. 

“I just like helping people,” Siegel said.

Salem hosting Golden Gloves Tournament this weekend

By MATT RAWLINGS

Of the Keizertimes

The 2019 Oregon Golden Gloves Championship Tournament will take place at the Salem Armory this weekend and will feature the best amateur boxers the state has to offer.

The tournament starts Friday, Feb.1 with the elimination round taking place at 6:30 p.m.  The championship round will begin the following day at 3 p.m.

General admission tickets for Friday’s elimination round will be $15 ($5 for kids under the age of 12) and $20 on Saturday ($10 for kids under 12). 


Keizer’s Apolinar Lopez will be competing in the 132-pound division at the 2019 Oregon Golden Gloves Tournamentat the Salem Armory on Friday, Feb. 1 and Saturday, Feb. 2.

Ringside floor seating will be $35.

This is a non-profit event with the proceeds going towards travel expenses for the tournament winners that move on to the Regional Tournament in Las Vegas. 

Thirty-seven fighters are scheduled to be on the lineup card this weekend.

Keizer resident Dan Dunn, who has been the director of Oregon Golden Gloves since last year, believes that a lot of these athletes will be competing at the next level.

“These guys are the elite of the elite as far as Oregon amateurs are concerned,” Dunn said. 

“This is their last stop before turning pro. These guys are good.”

One of the main headliners for this tournament is Salem’s Omar Murrillo.

Murrillo, who is a 2020 Olympic hopeful, was the 2018 Oregon Golden Gloves Tournament winner in the 165-pound division and also received the Golden Warrior Award — which is given to the top overall athlete at the tournament. 

“Omar is one of those guys that you knew was going to be special,” Dunn said. “Everyone shows up expecting him to win. All the pros know he’s coming up.”

Apolinar Lopez, who is from Keizer, will also be one of the main contenders — he was the 132-pound winner in last year’s Golden Gloves tournament. 

“(Lopez) is pretty graceful when he moves around,” Dunn said. 

“He has great situational awareness in the ring.”

Salem resident Jon Pena (114 lbs) is the other local fighter that will be competing in this event. 

Along with spending the last four months organizing this event, Dunn also has been training Murrillo, Lopez and Pena. 

It may be a stressful task, but for Dunn, it really is all about the passion he has for the sport that he loves.

“What I love about amateur boxing is it’s like one big family,” Dunn said. “People are going to see excellent fighting, but you will also see excellent sportsmanship.” “

“These guys love each other….They also know how to compete at a high level. It’s going to be very exciting to watch.”

McNary upsets South Salem



McNary guard Nate Meithof goes up for a shot after driving into the lane in the Celtics 59-57 victory over South Salem on Thursday, Jan. 31. 

By MATT RAWLINGS

Of the Keizertimes

McNary boys basketball head coach Ryan Kirch has had a number of big victories throughout his eight years with the Celtics.

But the win he got on Thursday will stick in his mind for a long time.

Boston Smith led the Celtics with 19 points as McNary (12-5, 5-2 Mountain Valley Conference) went on the road and knocked second-ranked South Salem (13-4, 6-1), beating the Saxons 59-57 and keeping themselves in position for the MVC title.

“I’m just really proud of our guys. Each and every one of them gave of themselves for the betterment of the team,” Kirch said. “It’s one of the best wins I’ve ever had as a coach. To watch them be so happy and excited is a joy to watch.”

Nate Meithof was also in double-figures with 14 points and Alfredo Villareal added 13 pints in the victory.

“Honestly, for me, this is the best win I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Villareal said. “We all played so great together and I am just proud of this team.”

Villareal had been playing limited minutes coming into this game after suffering a foot injury in January. But in his first game back in the starting lineup, the senior point guard made his presence felt almost immediately.

After knocking down a mid-range jumper to start the game, Villareal hit an open 3-pointer right of the key on the next trip to give McNary the early momentum.

Meithof and Smith each added hoops to put the Celtics ahead 9-7 midway through the opening period, but a pair of offensive fouls by Smith sent the McNary big man to the bench.

However, Kirch entered Smith back into the contest later in the period and the senior post threw down a monster jam after the Celtics beat the overly-aggressive defensive press from the Saxons.

South Salem forced numerous McNary turnovers throughout the game with their aggressive double-teams on the ball and three-quarter-courts traps. However, the Celtics also got a large supply of easy hoops after taking advantage of the Saxons being a little too greedy defensively.

“We spent a lot of the last two days working on all the fundamentals of handling pressure,” Kirch said. “We don’t talk about it as a press-break, we refer to it as press-attack. I’m a big believer that, if you attack it, you got to make them pay. If they don’t pay, their just going to keep on doing it.”

“We did have some turnovers, but we got some easy buckets because of their pressure.”

Both teams went back and forth into the midway part of the second period. But with the Saxons up 23-22, South Salem was hit with their second technical foul of the game when Eric Lungu got in the face of a McNary player after the whistle.

After Meithof hit one of the two technical foul shots, McNary’s Devyn Schurr knocked down a straightaway triple to give the Celtics the lead back at 26-23. A lay-in from Noah Hudkins and a pair of free throws from Meithof helped the Celtics go on a 7-1 run to take a 30-24 lead late in the period.

“We knew it was going to be chippy. These two teams have been at the top of the league for the last five years,” Kirch said. “When (South Salem) started talking a little bit, our guys just maintained their composure throughout the entire thing.”

The Saxons cut the lead to three with under a minute remaining before halftime, but Villareal ended the second quarter with back-to-back buckets in a 20-second span, extending McNary’s advantage to 34-27 at the break.

“We had so much energy going into the locker room. I knew at that moment that we were going to win this game.”

A three-point play from Smith early in the third period gave McNary their largest lead of the game at 41-29. Smith picked up his third foul midway through the quarter, but that didn’t stop his aggressiveness on the offensive end.

Smith scored two more times before the end of the period, including a highlight-reel finish off a lob from Meithof.

“I just have to play my game,” Smith said. “I’m not going to change for the refs and I’m not going to change for the other team.”

“My teammates definitely got me open with being ultra-aggressive driving in from the three-point line.”

The Celtics entered the fourth quarter with a 49-41 advantage. Now, the only thing on their mind was to hang on.

One thing that allowed McNary to do that was their tenacious 2-1-2 zone, a defense that has become prominent for the Celtics over the last few weeks.

South Salem had to settle for long jumpers and were denied any second-chance opportunities thanks to the rebounding abilities of Hudkins and Smith.

McNary also held South Salem’s star guard Jaden Nielsen-Skinner in check all night as the Portland State commit made just two field goals for the game.

“It’s different than what a lot of people see, so it’s hard to prepare for a little bit,” Kirch said about the unique zone defense. “It certainly gave (South Salem) a lot of trouble tonight.”

What nearly killed McNary down the stretch was foul shooting. The Celtics held a 58-52 with 1:30 remaining in the contest and were looking to put the game on ice. However, they missed six out of seven free throws to close out the contest — including a pair of front end 1-and-1 misses.

After Nielsen-Skinner hit a couple of free throws to cut the Saxons deficit to 59-57 with 8.1 seconds left, Villareal was fouled on the inbounds and was sent to the line. But Villareal missed both shots, giving South Salem the opportunity to force overtime or win with a 3-pointer.

South Salem’s Trey Galbraith tried a step-back triple on the Saxons ensuing possession, but Meithof was able to extend every bit of his 6-foot-4 inch frame to partially block the shot.

Ryan Brown caught the carom for the Saxons and threw up a desperation shot in mid-air at the buzzer, but the ball spun around the rim and fell out of the cylinder.

Right as gravity brought the ball back down to the hardwood, the McNary student section rushed the floor, celebrating the monumental victory.

“The crowd definitely brought the energy for the whole game,” Smith said.

Big first half propels Celts to victory

By MATT RAWLINGS

Of the Keizertimes

McNary’s Boston Smith wasn’t sure if he was going to go in this one.

The senior post banged up his knee in the Celtics 73-63 overtime loss to Sprague on Thursday, Jan. 24 and was deemed a game-time decision for Saturday’s contest against Mountain View.

Despite not being at 100 percent, Smith decided that he needed to come through for his team.

“I knew that me playing would be a huge impact,” Smith said. 

Smith led the way with a game-high 23 points — 15 of which came in the second half — and propelled the McNary boys hoops team to a 74-60 victory over Mountain View.

“(Mountain View) was keying on me in the first half, but I was able to stay calm and let things come to me,” Smith said. 

Griffin Oliveira had 12 points for the Celtics and knocked down four shots from behind the arc. Noah Hudkins also scored 12 for McNary.

Hudkins was the one that got it going to start the game. After getting an easy hoop thanks to a beautifully set up pick-and-roll, Hudkins buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put McNary on top 12-6.

Hudkins and Smith would each convert lay-ups moments later to extend McNary’s advantage to 16-6.

“It felt good to go out there and just run and get it going,” Hudkins said. “I think I just came out with a different mindset and I played with an aggressive attitude.”

The Celtics kept their lead at 10 to end the quarter after Nate Meithof concluded the period with a left-handed flush off a steal.

A bucket in the paint from Junior Walling, plus a baseline triple from Oliveira gave McNary the 29-15 lead early in the second quarter. Mountain View came back with an 8-2 run to get the deficit down to single-digits, but the Celtics would respond with a run of their own.

Riley Flores, Alfredo Villareal and Oliveira all knocked treys during McNary’s 11-0 scurry, which extended the McNary lead to 42-23.

Whether it was hitting open shots from the perimeter or getting easy buckets down low, the McNary offense seemed to be firing on all cylinders in the first 16 minutes of the contest.

“We have a lot of guys that can make plays,” McNary head coach Ryan Kirch said. “We want to play an inside-out game and we trust our big guys to move the basketball around when they are doubled-teamed.”

The Celtics went into the break up 46-27, but late in the period, Smith had to be attended to on the sideline after appearing to re-aggravate the injury on his right knee. 

Smith came out to start the third quarter with a knee brace, but the pain he was in didn’t seem to effect his production as he scored three buckets in the paint and ended the period with nine points. 

“(Smith) was dominant inside,” Kirch said. “He is a really mature kid and his leadership has been great.”

The Celtics did a poor job of taking care of the basketball in the final period, which allowed Mountain View to make the score a little more respectable. 

Kirch hopes that his team will clean up on the turnovers as the Celtics head into the second half of their Greater Valley Conference schedule, but he was ultimately pleased with how his team performed overall. 

“Obviously, we need to get a little bit better closing out games, but I’m proud of the way they played,” Kirch said.

McNary hosts Summit at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. 

Lady Celts sprint past Royal Scots

By MATT RAWLINGS

Of the Keizertimes

With a win over Sprague in their previous contest, McKay’s girls basketball team broke their 37-game conference losing streak and came into their game with McNary beaming with confidence.

But last Friday night, the Lady Celts brought McKay back down to Earth. 

McNary got 15 points from Abigail Hawley and 12 points each by Sabella Alfaro and Mackenzie Proctor as the Celtics led from start-to-finish and defeated the Royal Scots by a score of 56-30 on Jan. 18.

“We came focused and ready to play. That was apparent in the first half,” McNary head coach Elizabeth Doran said. “We played with a lot of confidence.”

With the Celtics leading 6-5 in the early minutes of the opening quarter, Hawley got loose for an easy layup after a beautiful feed from point guard Leah Doutt.

Hawley knocked down a pair of jumpers later in the period, which was then followed by a trio of baskets by Alfaro, helping the Celtics go on a 14-1 run and end the period with a 20-6 advantage.

“We did a good job of getting out in transition to get easy buckets,” Hawley said. “Our defense gave us a lot of opportunities to score.”

Even though they went through an offensive lull to begin the second period, McNary’s defense completely stifled any chance McKay had to get back into the game.

Playing a combination of man-to-man and 2-3 zone defenses throughout the game, plus the occasional full-court press, McNary kept the Royal Scots on their heels for all 32 minutes — 30 points is the least McNary has allowed an opponent to score so far this season.

“These girls just buy in on defense,” Doran said. “We all jump on board and play team defense.”

Midway through the second quarter, Proctor finished an easy layup after coming away with a steal. Moments later, the sophomore guard knocked down a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions, giving the Celtics the 30-10 advantage at the break.

“Mackenzie hit some big shots,” Doran said. “It was good to see her step up.”

“I was just shooting with confidence,” Proctor added.

McKay got the lead down to 16 before the seven minute mark in the fourth quarter, but McNary made sure that they thwarted any type of comeback attempt. 

Four quick points from Hawley and a corner triple from Alfaro allowed McNary to open the period on an 8-0 run to go on top 49-25.

McNary returns to the hardwood on Saturday to host Mountain View at 6:30 p.m.

McNary takes down West Salem on the mat

By MATT RAWLINGS

Of the Keizertimes

Even though the McNary wrestling squad is among the youngest in the Mountain Valley Conference, the Celtics have shown over the course of the season that they have a lot of potential.

And they proved it once in their first home dual of the year.

The Celtics won their first MVC meet of the season on Wednesday, Jan. 16, defeating West Salem in convincing fashion by a score of 50-22. 

Even though it was an impressive victory, McNary head coach Jason Ebbs doesn’t want his kids to lose sight of what their focus is.

“This was a very nice, competitive dual for us and I thought our kids looked good,” Ebbs said. “But were not going up and putting notches in our hat quite yet. We still need to focus on improvement.”

“We’ve still got a long ways to go, but if we take advantage of the time we have over the next four weeks, we’re going to win more matches.”

After West Salem forfeited the 182-pound match, Garrett Wampler started the night off for the Celtics in the 195-pound bout. Even though he was wrestling up a division, Wampler dominated his opponent and earned a pin late in the first round.

“I just went in there knowing that I could get in control right off the bat,” Wampler said. 

Anthony Garcia-Reyes continued to build the momentum for McNary in the following match. The junior 220-pounder took a big lead on the scoreboard after getting a big three-point takedown early in the second round, then eventually forced a fall late in the third round. 

With two straight pins, as well as a pair of forfeits, the Celtics 24-0 lead set the tone for the rest of the match.

“Winning early and getting the ball rolling is huge,” Ebbs said. “It’s a product of the hours and hours those kids put in at practice against each other.”

In the 113-pound match, McNary’s Grady Burrows appeared to be in deep trouble when he was sent to the mat late in the first round. But the sophomore was able to keep his shoulder blades just off the ground by the time the buzzer sounded, avoiding the early fall. 

When the third round of the match began, West Salem’s Lance McClung came at Burrows and tried a leg throw, but Burrows saw it coming from a mile away.

“I knew that West (Salem) likes to throw in legs, so that’s what I was kind of anticipating him to do,” Burrows said. 

Burrows combated the move, maneuvered his body and sent McClung to the floor, earning the fall 21 seconds into the final round.

After the victory, Burrows pointed over to McNary assistant coach Sam Martin — who coached at West Salem last season.

“It was my way to tell Coach Martin that win was for him,” Burrows said.

Ryan Bamford (170 lbs.) earned the third and final pin for the Celtics in this one.

McNary’s Daniel Hernandez (126 lbs.) won via 5-3 decision and Matthew Mehlhoff (152 lbs.) was victorious in his match with a technical fall while leading 25-10.

McNary will host their next match tonight against North Salem at 7 p.m.

McNary loses heartbreaker at the buzzer

By MATT RAWLINGS

Of the Keizertimes

The McNary boys hoops squad led for the most of the contest, but a squandered opportunity in the final moments left the Celtics heartbroken in the end.

With the score tied at 56 with 11 seconds on the clock, McNary had possession of the ball with a chance to score the go-ahead bucket. But West Salem’s Justin Scoggin came away with a clutch steal, and then went coast-to-coast to finish a tough layup on the other end as time expired to give the Titans the 58-56 victory over McNary on Friday, Jan. 11

“It stings. Losing tough games hurt. But I couldn’t be prouder of how hard our guys played,” McNary head coach Ryan Kirch said. “We’re walking out of here with our heads held high.”

“Give credit to West Salem. They battled for 32 minutes. They are very well coached, and their players made plays when they needed to.”

Boston Smith led McNary with a game-high of 19 points and Griffin Oliveira chipped in with 12 points.

Nate Meithof added 11 points on the evening and Alfredo Villareal was also in double-digits with 10 points.

West Salem grabbed the 5-4 lead in the early-going, but five quick points from Oliveira gave the Celtics the lead back midway through the period. 

Along with being a key scorer for the Celtics, Oliveira was also given the task of face-guarding Scoggin for the entire first quarter.

“We knew that (Scoggin) was a really good player and a really good scorer for them, so it was our game-plan to face-guard him coming in,” Oliveira said.

“On the offensive end, I was just trying to take what they were giving to me. I wasn’t trying to force anything up.”

Both Meithof and Junior Walling hit a pair of foul shots late in the quarter to complete a 9-1 run, giving the Celtics a 13-6 advantage.

Despite putting the clamps on the Titans offense with their hard man-to-man defense, the Celtics started to get into foul trouble towards the end of the first quarter. So Kirch elected to move to a 2-3 zone at the beginning of the second period after Meithof and Smith each picked up their second foul.

“We were trying to extend the lead but needed to stay out of foul trouble,” Kirch said. “So I put Boston and Nate back in because I wanted to protect them for the rest of the second quarter so we could try and go to the third quarter with the lead.”

Adjustments with defense and personnel didn’t seem to effect McNary offensively in the second period. A put-back hoop from Smith, followed by a baseline fadeaway jumper from Oliveira and a three-point play by Meithof allowed McNary to stay on top 26-19.

The Celtics extended their lead to double-digits after Smith muscled in a pair of buckets deep in the paint late in the second quarter, giving the senior post 14 points for the half.

“It’s always a point-of-emphasis to get the ball inside,” Smith said. “I thought we did a good job with our spacing.”

McNary kept the momentum going to start the third quarter as a runner from Villareal and a 3-pointer from the corner by Meithof helped McNary stay on top by double-figures midway through the third period. 

But West Salem came roaring back to tie the game with a 10-0 run thanks to four second-chance buckets. 

The Titans even grabbed their first lead since the opening minutes of the first quarter moments later, but Villareal ended the third period with a floater to tie the game at 46.

Villareal then started the final quarter with a three-point play, which was followed by a jump-hook from Smith to put McNary on top 51-46. West Salem, however, came back to re-take the lead with a 6-0 run.

The back-and-forth play continued for the remainder of the period as the Celtics were able to capture the lead once again after Smith hit a tough jumper to make it 55-54.

After a defensive stop by McNary, Smith was then fouled on the other end and sent to the foul line with 1:27 to go. Smith, however, was only able to hit one of his two shots, which allowed West Salem guard Kieran Pruett to tie the game on the Titans next possession with 1:15 remaining.

Kirch wanted his team to hold for the final shot, so after stalling for just over a minute, the McNary head coach called timeout and drew up a play for Meithof.

“They were really packing the paint on Boston and I was concerned with getting him the ball in the right spot,” Kirch said. “We had turned it over three times in the last four minutes trying to enter it into (Smith). We tried to put (Meithof) in a pick and roll situation to draw his defender out and open up a driving lane.”

Meithof caught the ball on the inbounds and started to make his move. But after trying to use a screen from Smith, Meithof spun into a double-team and had the ball stolen by Scoggin, who then took off in the other direction with the intent of scoring the winning bucket.

Oliveira was the last line of defense for the Celtics, but Scoggin just got around him to put in a nifty scoop shot off the glass as the buzzer sounded, sending West Salem off to victory.

Kirch took full responsibility of what took place during the final play. 

“I need to put my players in the best position to make plays, and I didn’t do that in the final moments,” Kirch said. “That’s on me. I’m so proud of how hard our kids played, competed for each other, and represented our program.”

Despite the loss, this team is confident in their ability to pick themselves up off the mat.

“It’s just one loss. It will sting tonight, but we got each other’s backs and we’re not worried about it.”

Smith added: “We’re dealing with this loss in a positive way.”

McNary travels to McKay tonight for a 5:45 p.m. game.

Parker and Bonn reunite at Willamette

By MATT RAWLINGS

Of the Keizertimes

Isaac Parker was the head coach of the McNary High School football program from 2012 to 2014 and led the Celtics to the postseason in all three years of his tenure.

Kyle Bonn got the chance to play for Parker when he made the varsity team in 2013 as a sophomore. He then earned a starting spot on the offensive line in 2014.

“It was about more than just football, Bonn said about playing for Parker in high school. “It was about building relationships and developing character.”

“The way that (Parker) coached made us excited to compete with each other. It kept football season really exciting and he kept me looking forward to what was coming up next.”

But Bonn didn’t get the chance to have a senior year with one of his favorite coaches. In the beginning of 2015, Parker left the McNary program to take a job as an offensive line and run game coach for Lewis & Clark College.

However, after spending the last four season apart, both Bonn and Parker will have the opportunity to reunite this fall.

After having a standout season in his final year at McNary, Bonn signed with Willamette University to continue his education, as well as his football career. He played the last three seasons for the Bearcats under Glen Fowles. 

But after a 1-8 season in 2018, Fowles and and the university parted ways, leaving the head coaching position vacant.

With Parker’s success at Lewis & Clark, combined with his connection to Willamette — he played for the Bearcats from 1998 to 2001 and was a two-year team-captain — it was an easy decision for athletic director Rob Passage to offer Parker the job.

And Parker was more than happy to accept the offer. 

“We are very excited to have Isaac returning to Willamette to lead our football program,” Passage said. “Not only does he bring outstanding teaching and coaching experience, he also adds a tremendous passion for building community within the program, the university and Salem.”

Before his days at McNary, Parker was an assistant coach/offensive coordinator at South Salem High School from 2007 to 2011, so making a return to the Salem-Keizer area provoked a sense of joy in the new head coach.

“I’m really excited to be re-engaged with the (Salem-Keizer) community. I created a lot of connections in my time coaching here,” Parker said. “The only school I would have left Lewis & Clark for is Willamette.”

Parker isn’t the only one excited about his return to coaching in Marion County.

“It’s really great to get him back for that senior season that I missed out on in high school,” Bonn said. “As a team, I’m excited to see us become, not only great football players, but also a great band of brothers.”

Parker has his work cut out for him as he his taking over a program that has lost 17 of their 18 games over the last two seasons. However, he is no stranger to helping a losing program develop a winning environment. 

Lewis & Clark was coming off a winless season the year before Parker set foot on campus. The team also went through each of the 2015 and 2016 seasons without a victory. But when Parker was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2017, the program started to experience real change.

In his second game as the OC, Parker led Lewis & Clark to a 40-21 victory over Pomona-Pitzer. It was the most points the Pioneers had scored since 2014 and their first win since 2013.

Two weeks later, Lewis & Clark defeated Willamette 24-21 for the first time since 2000 to claim the Wagon Wheel traveling trophy. 

Even though the Pioneers still had losing records in 2017 and 2018, Parker played a big role in the culture shift at Lewis & Clark and hopes to do the same thing with his alma mater.

“When I played here, (Willamette) was considered a perennial contender. And I don’t believe that returning to that mindset is far off,” Parker said. 

Part of changing the culture of a program is having seniors buy in to what your are preaching, which is why having a guy like Bonn — who will be competing for a starting job on the offensive line — is crucial to help Parker get his message across to the rest of the team.

“Getting the opportunity to get that fourth year together is fun and exciting,” Parker said. When you have a culture change or a new approach to how you do things in a football program, the senior class can be a hit-or-miss, so having someone who has been in this position with me before and understands the value of his role is huge.”

“The biggest thing about Kyle is that he is a high effort guy, which will take you far no matter what. He always gave it his all, which, as a coach, that is what you need and is one of our values as a program.