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Category: Local Sports

Lady Celts earn hard-fought win over West Salem


Of the Keizertimes

The McNary girls basketball team faced one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the state this season. 

Even though they only won two of their 10 preseason contests, the tough competition prepared them for what they would face in Mountain Valley Conference play.

In a game that went down to the wire, McNary proved that they were the more battle-tested squad.

Leah Doutt led the way for McNary with 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field as the Celtics pulled off the upset at West Salem on Friday, Jan. 11, defeating the Titans 42-39.

Abilgail Hawley was also in double-figures with 10 points.

“(West Salem) is really tough team that put a lot of defensive pressure on us, so I was really proud of how we stayed composed throughout the game,” McNary head coach Elizabeth Doran said. “Early on in the season we weren’t winning a lot of games, but I could tell that we were getting better and now it’s coming to fruition.”

The game couldn’t have started much better for the Celtics as they began the opening period on a 7-0 run thanks to a jumper from Annie Leigh Besa, followed by a 3-pointer from Hawley. 

McNary extended their lead to 14-4 by the end of the first quarter after back-to-back hoops from Doutt and another bucket from Hawley.

“The key for us was being able to break the press and handle their defensive pressure,” Doutt said. “We were able to get around their defenders and take good shots.”

West Salem, however, came roaring back in the second quarter, going on a 14-2 run to take a 18-16 lead late in the period. 

“We kind of went cold offensively in the second quarter,” Doran said.

Mackenzie Proctor made the only shot for the Celtics in the second period, burying a mid-range jumper with less than a minute left to tie the game at 18 going into the break.

After both teams traded baskets for the majority of the third quarter, McNary started to get the slight edge when they ended the period on a 6-0 run. A runner from Doutt, paired with four straight points by Hawley, gave the Celtics a 31-26 advantage with eight minutes remaining in the game.

The Titans, though, refused to say die, trimming their deficit down to two points on multiple occasions in the final period. But in each instance, Doutt made sure to keep West Salem at arm’s length. 

The senior point guard knocked down three buckets in the fourth quarter, but her most clutch play came on defense when her team was up 37-35 with 1:10 left in the game.

West Salem had the ball and was looking to either tie or take the lead when Doutt forced a steal at the top of the key, led the Celtics on the fast break and gave a beautiful feed to Kennedy Buss, who finished the easy layup to put McNary on top 39-35 with under a minute remaining.

“My teammates did a good job of getting open and setting screens for me so I could get to the basket,” Doutt said. “

A trio of missed free throws down the stretch allowed the Titans to cut the lead to one at 40-39 with 16 seconds left of the clock. But after West Salem fouled Leigh Besa with 8.6 seconds remaining, the sophomore forward calmly stepped to the charity stripe and knocked down two shots to put her team up by three.

“I was a mess in my head, but I just stepped to the line and took deep breath and I told myself that I had this,” Leigh Besa said.

West Salem tried a desperation shot at the horn that was well contested by the McNary defense. 

The shot never had a chance and didn’t even draw iron, which sent the Celtics into celebration mode.

“It was really exciting to get that win,” Leigh Besa said. “It showed that we can compete and go up against these big teams.”

McNary goes on the road to take on McKay at 7:15 p.m.

Hurdles remain to reunifying youth leagues


Of the Keizertimes

Don’t look now, but springtime is right around the corner, meaning that youth baseball and softball will be in full swing a few months from now.

With registration starting to ramp up, both Brad Arnsmeier — Keizer Little League President — and Ryan Walsh — McNary Youth Baseball President — are really encouraged about the direction of their respective programs going into the 2019 season. 

“We feel really good about the direction were going,” Arnsmeier said. “We have seen growth in both our softball and baseball programs. Every new year is exciting and we can’t wait to get started.”

“Our numbers were really strong after the first week out,” Walsh said. “We want both programs to succeed and have youth baseball in Keizer in a good place. That’s what the goal is.”

From 1972 to 2008, KLL was the only option for youth baseball and softball in the city. But just over a decade ago, several leaders left the group — with tournament revenue being the main point of contention — to form Keizer Youth Sports Association (which is now MYB).

Both Walsh and Arnsmeier weren’t involved with their respective leagues when the split occurred, but both parties claim to actively be trying to bring the two groups together. 

“It’s not just the city that would like to see a unified program again in Keizer. I would say we all would like to be under one umbrella. Keizer Little League and MYB officials sit down several times each year to try and find common ground,” Arnsmeier said. 

“We each offer solutions, but we haven’t found the perfect fit yet. I will always remain optimistic, but until the two groups can resolve just a couple of fundamental philosophical differences it will be difficult.”

While MYB Vice President Bo Lane does want to have those conversations about coming together once again, he also believes that it won’t happen in the near future.

“I would consider both programs successful, so we need a really good reason to undoubtedly say that we need to make a change in order for our two programs to be better, and I’m not sure that we actually have an answer for that right now,” Lane said.

“It doesn’t mean that we won’t explore it, but at this point we don’t have that one main reason to do this. But maybe that is something we should talk about more.”

One of the biggest philosophical differences between the two programs is the way teams are constructed. 

With KLL, players who tryout are put through a drafting process to determine which team they will play on during the regular season.

At the end of the regular season, the best players will be put together to form an All-Star team that will compete in the District 7 Little League Tournament, with the hope of progressing to the state tournament or even the Little League World Series. 

MYB, on the other hand, has tryouts and places kids on teams that match their skill level and experience:  Federal, highly competitive, American, very competitive, National, level similar to recreational. leagues with a bit more competitiveness. (For kids under the age of eight playing T-Ball or Double-A, only the recreation option is available). 

Each team will play a league schedule against other squads from the valley — such as Sprague or West Salem — and then has the chance to qualify for the state playoffs.

There are also some minor rule differences between the two programs as well. For example, MYB, which plays by Junior Baseball of Oregon (JBO) rules, allows players to lead off of bases. But that is not permitted in KLL play.

KLL also offers softball while MYB only does baseball.

Since both KLL and MYB play the majority of their games at Keizer Little League Park, there have been some disagreements about what each side wants to do with some of the individual fields. 

At the KLL Long Range Task Force Meeting on Jan 2., MYB personnel stated that they wanted to make the infields all dirt — likely due to the fact that it would be easier to change the dimensions of the infield with the pitcher’s mound and the bases, making it so teams of different age and skill levels could use the same field.

KLL, however, wants the infields to have the more traditional grass look for baseball — KLL has had the city’s contract for management at Keizer Little League Park since 2013.

Even though it seems that theyhave conflicting ideals, Arnsmeier claims that the two sides aren’t all that different.

“If people were to take a close look at the two programs, they would find out that we are so much more similar than different,” Arnsmeier said. 

The truth is that youth baseball looks much different in 2019 than it did in 1972. There are youth teams all over the Salem-Keizer area that aren’t attached to a league, so they exclusively play travel ball in weekend tournaments. 

Both KLL and MYB place a large emphasis on player development, which is why KLL Vice President Lisa Buik believes that keeping the two programs separate may not be such a bad thing. 

“It’s almost a better thing to stay as we are, because if we decide to march together under the same umbrella, it doesn’t stop somebody else from coming in and starting their own thing,” Buik said. 

“So, having people with a more constructive mindset on two separate sides of the fence is probably the better thing, instead of creating another war that could potentially happen.”

Since the two groups split in 2008, there have been several instances of animosity between MYB and KLL over the last decade.

One of the more recent examples came in December of 2017 at a Keizer City Council meeting regarding a proposal by KLL to hike up field usage fees by $10. 

Walsh, as well as other MYB members, were opposed to the increase. After Clint Holland — who manages the concession stand at Keizer Little League Park — claimed that not showing up to the fields for reserved times had a large impact on concession sales, the temperature in the room evidently got so heated that Mayor Cathy Clark had to cut the conversation short.

At the task force meeting on Jan. 2, concession sales were a big point of contention yet again as multiple people at the meeting confirmed that, over the years, KLL and MYB kids and parents were instructed not to buy anything from the concession stand if it didn’t benefit their own organization — concession revenue goes to whoever holds the contract at the park. 

However, both Walsh and Arnsmeier indicated that the two programs have left those troubles in the past.

“Many times, when you have competing programs, you always have stuff that you have to deal with,” Arnsmeier said. “We’ve had some bumps in the road, but it’s all water under the bridge.”

Walsh also added: “It’s two separate programs working amicably and very fluidly. We have a cohesive and fluid relationship and we work together all year long.”

Both programs also shared how developing players on and off the field is their top priority.

“Our board is filled with people that are really passionate about kids improving and having fun and helping them become successful young men in our community.” Lane said. 

“I take my involvement with (KLL) very, very seriously. I love to volunteer and I love to coach,” Arsmeier said. “If it makes a difference in someone’s life, every minute I spend on the field is worth it.”

Shorthanded Celtics fall in tourney championship


Of the Keizertimes

Even though they weren’t at full strength, the McNary boys hoops team put together a valiant effort against Newberg on Saturday night. But the Celtics couldn’t climb back into the game after falling behind by 21 in the fourth quarter and eventually lost 67-57 in the Newberg Boys Basketball Tournament Championship game.

“I’m disappointed that we lost, but I’m encouraged at some of the things we showed with our toughness and competitiveness,” McNary head coach Ryan Kirch said. “Sometimes shots don’t fall and you come out on the losing end…Being down a couple of bodies made it really challenging for us at times.”

McNary was without two of their best players in Junior Walling and Griffin Oliveira. Walling has missed the last few contests due to injury, while Oliveira was not present due to “family stuff and prior engagements” according to Kirch.

David Boston and Nate Meithof each had 23 points to carry the Celtics offensively, but in the end, McNary didn’t get enough help from the rest of their supporting cast.

“We have a lot of leaders who lead in different ways and Griff is a guy that a lot of guys look to,” Kirch said. “You can’t replace him and you can’t replace Junior’s strength and his rebounding ability on the inside.”

“It did give some opportunity for some other guys to get minutes and I thought they did some good things and competed well. We just fell a little short.”

Smith got things going in the opening period with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting from the field as the Celtics trailed just 14-12 at the end of the quarter.

However, it appeared that McNary couldn’t buy a bucket in the second quarter. The Celtics settled for several contested jumpers and couldn’t get out in transition, which led to them only scoring four points in the period, causing them to fall behind 26-16 at half. 

Meithof had the only field goal of the second quarter on a put-back layup with 2:50 left in the half.

“We weren’t on top of things offensively,” Meithof said. “We moved the ball well, but we weren’t getting to the hoop.”

Kirch also added: “We were getting back on our heels in the first half and running our offense 35 feet from the basket.”

Things went from bad to worse for the Celtics as the game looked to be getting out of hand in the second half. After McNary ended the third quarter trailing 47-32, Newberg center Kyle Kruse knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to start the final period, giving his team the largest lead of the game.

It would have been easy for the Celtics to give up at this point. But they weren’t quite ready to throw in the towel. 

McNary put on a devastating full-court press on Newberg, defending with an intensity that wasn’t present for most of the game.

The suffocating defense helped create turnovers into offensive opportunities as the Celtics went on a 12-0 run thanks to a pair of triples by Meithof and a floater by Devyn Schurr. 

“We just competed hard in our press and didn’t worry about the score,” Kirch said. “A lot of them were gassed, but they didn’t stop.”

“We talked about how, at the end, we were playing as the aggressor in that situation and that mindset is what we need from the get-go.”

The 12-0 scamper by the Celtics got the lead down to single-digits at 53-44 with 3:48 left and forced Newberg head coach Mark Brown to call a timeout. 

Out of the timeout, McNary set up their press and looked they were about to get a steal before a reach-in foul was called on Schurr. 

Schurr let his emotions get the best of him after the call and was immediately whistled for a technical foul. Newberg was awarded two free throws for the personal foul, two more for the technical and was given back possession of the ball. 

It ended up being a five-point trip for Newberg, which was too much for McNary to come back from. 

McNary is currently competing in the Arby’s Holiday Classic in South Medford. They return home on Friday Jan. 4 to take on Forest Grove at 7:15 p.m. in their final non-league matchup.

McNary to host state champions

Of the Keizertimes

Two defending state champions, Roseburg in 6A and Dallas in 5A, are coming to McNary as the Celtics open wrestling season on Friday, Nov. 30 with the Jerry Lane Invitational.

“They’re tough, top of the line,” McNary head coach Jason Ebbs said. “We like wrestling them. We like setting the bar. We like believing that’s the level we’re going to reach and beyond.”

Ebbs has been impressed with what he’s seen in the McNary wrestling room.

“I’m seeing a better focus in the kids and I’m just seeing a better confidence in them,” Ebbs said.

“We’re going through drills faster. They’re catching on a little faster.”

As usual, he just wishes there was more of them.

“With a school of 2,000 kids, all I want is 10 percent,” said Ebbs. “If we can get 200, we’re doing our job right. We’re just trying to make wrestling accessible to everybody. We’re looking for kids to take on the challenge and to grow.”

McNary had a little over 60 attend the first week of practice, which Ebbs called “on the good side of typical.”

“We’re bringing out a nice solid young group of kids,” Ebbs said. “We’ve got a little bit bigger freshmen group. It’s the first group that had a chance to wrestle three years in middle school.”

The Celtics are led by senior Enrique Vincent, who has won back-to-back district championships and placed third in the state at 120 pounds as a sophomore and fourth at 126 as a junior.

“I’m excited because it’s my last year,” said Vincent, who weighed in at 140 pounds to open the season and hopes to improve his technique and cardio.

McNary junior Nicolette Parra leads a small group of girls.

Parra, who has wrestled since middle school, won the Sierra Nevada Classic in Reno last season and then placed fourth at the girls state tournament

Surgery to repair a broken knuckle kept her from wrestling much in the offseason.

“I was doing a lot better than I thought I would,” Parra said of the first week. “I was wrestling with some people that I had a hard time with last year and it’s been a lot easier than I thought it would be.”

While Parra enters her junior year more confident, she also knows she won’t sneak up on anyone.

“I know what I’m capable of now but also people know my name now,” Parra said.

“I feel like last year people wouldn’t take me as seriously but now people know what to expect.”

While the OSAA will have its first official girls state wrestling tournament this season, Parra isn’t ruling out wrestling with the boys and qualifying for the traditional state tournament.

“I want to see if I can aim for boys state because I feel like it’s more of a challenge,” she said.

Sophomore Grady Burrows is the only other Celtic who has wrestled at the state tournament after placing fourth at 106 pounds at the district tournament last season.

McNary does return Garrett Wampler, who finished fifth in the district at 170, and Daniel Hernandez, who placed sixth at 120 pounds.

Noah Gatchet, a junior who wrestled on the varsity at 106 as a freshman but sat out last season, is back.

“He’s a good kid and I’m happy to have him back,” Ebbs said. “He’s a good influence on our team. He’s done club wrestling. He’s been around the mat a little bit. The good news is when he was a freshman, I think he weighed about 80 pounds. He’s up to about 113.”

The Jerry Lane Invitational, which also features Cleveland, Grant, Glencoe and Jefferson, begins Friday at 4 p.m.

“That’s the time when we start taking advantage of what we’ve learned so far, put things to the test,” Ebbs said. “A tournament usually provides a little value to what we’re doing in practice, helps kids set goals, helps them understand what it looks like outside of the room.”

Lady Celts young but experienced

Of the Keizertimes

McNary’s seven sophomores, five of which played on the varsity as freshmen, spent last season getting out the nerves.

“At the beginning of last year I was terrified because being a freshman and starting I didn’t want to disappoint my team,” point guard Leah Doutt said.

Now, the young Lady Celts are ready to ball.

“I just feel more comfortable because this is my group now,” Doutt said. “A lot of our team is sophomores this year and we’ve been playing together for as long as I can remember. I feel like we have really good chemistry and we play well together. It should be fun.”

Thanks to the varsity minutes played last season, McNary will be young but not inexperienced.

“Normally when you have seven sophomores, almost everyone is new to varsity but we’ve got three of them ((Doutt, Mackenzie Proctor and Kennedy Buss) that played quite a bit last year,” McNary head coach Elizabeth Doran said. “It helps a lot. When you’re dealing with young kids, the first time they’re playing varsity, there are a lot of nerves and there’s no way you can resolve that other than playing more minutes and that’s good that a lot of the sophomores have quite a few minutes under their belts”

Proctor gives the Lady Celts an outside shooting presence while Buss will provide toughness.

Rebekah Grimmer, another sophomore who played varsity last season, can shoot and play inside.

McNary returns two seniors in Abbie Hawley, who averaged more than nine points and three rebounds per game last season, and Sabella Alfaro, who averaged four points and more than four rebounds.

“I’m really excited for this year,” Alfaro said. “I can’t wait to watch us grow. We have a lot of young girls this year and I like teaching them. I love learning stuff from them at the same time. I’m going to definitely have to score more points this year. The biggest thing I’m going to have to offer this year is leadership.”

The Lady Celts have two juniors—Kyah Witherspoon and Regann Donahue, who returns after sitting out last year.

“That was a pleasant surprise that she came out,” Doran said. “We’re glad to have her. She’s a good athlete.”

With its lack of height, McNary will again play fast.

“We have to run people,” Doran said. “That’s no secret. We’re not a tall team. We have kids that can defend but we’re going to have to keep games full court to have success. We’re working on a lot of full court defense and pushing the ball in transition and turning it into a full court game. I want to get a lot of points out of our full court defense this year. I think that will be an area that we will be able to excel in.”

The Lady Celts open the season Thursday, Nov. 29 at home against Roosevelt.

The game tips off at 7 p.m.

McNary grad takes over Sprague hoops program

Of the Keizertimes

Jordan Graneto was voted the Greater Valley Conference’s boys basketball assistant coach of the year after McNary won the league title last season.     

But it was his experience as a player, where he won two league championships with the Celtics, that attracted Graneto to coaching.

He wanted to be like Jim Litchfield and Erik Jespersen, his varsity and JV coaches at McNary.

“I was on two really good teams when I was in high school,” Graneto said. “I just grew up around those guys (Litchfield and Jespersen) and they were the inspiration for me wanting to become a teacher and a coach. I loved basketball and those two were role models for me growing up.”

After graduating from McNary in 2009, Graneto earned a scholarship to play basketball at Corban University. After two seasons, Graneto stopped playing to become a volunteer assistant at Sprague.

Right out of college, Graneto got his first teaching job at North Salem, where he was the JV coach.

At just 22-years-old, Graneto was then named the head varsity coach at North Salem.

But after two years he decided to return home and accepted a teaching position at McNary, where he was also the JV coach and assistant varsity coach under Ryan Kirch.

“It’s always different going from being in charge of an entire program to being someone’s assistant,” Graneto said. “Ryan does a really good job and he gave me a lot of responsibility that I had control over with the varsity and JV team. I learned a lot from the different ways that he runs it.”

With Graneto as an assistant, the Celtics had two of their best seasons in the program’s history, winning 20 games last season and 19 the year before.

“The last three or four years are some of the best teams in McNary’s history,” Graneto said.

“I’ve been watching McNary basketball since I was eight or nine years old. They remind me a lot of the teams when I was in high school because they were a little bit undersized but they just moved the basketball so well and worked for good shots. A lot of times if you do that and play good defense then you’re going to be able to win.”

Making the extra pass and playing team defense will continue to be the focus as Graneto takes over the boys basketball program at Sprague, where his coaching career began.

“I’ve known Craig (Swanson), the principal at Sprague for a while,” Graneto said. “He was the athletic director when I was an assistant. We got to know each other a little bit then. I just felt comfortable with the situation with Craig being here and I trusted him.”

The Olympians will be one of the youngest teams in the new Mountain Valley Conference, after the graduation of Teagan Quitoriano, the leading scorer in the program’s history, and the transfer of Jailen Hammer to Clackamas.

“The kids have worked really hard so far,” Graneto said. “They want to get better, which is my main deal. I wanted to be somewhere where the kids really wanted to get better and so far they’ve done all that I’ve asked them in the offseason. They’re dedicated and I think they’re ready to go this year.”

Sprague opens the season on Friday, Nov. 30 at Canby. The Olympians first home game is Friday, Dec. 7 against Beaverton. They host McNary on Jan. 24.

Celtics eliminated in first round

Of the Keizertimes

LAKE OSWEGO—McNary’s football season ended the same way it started.

Riding high off a four-game winning streak and a league championship, the Celtics, who opened the season 0-5, came back down to earth in a 56-33 first round playoff loss to Lakeridge.

“We played slow and soft, not a good combination in the playoffs,” McNary head coach Jeff Auvinen said. “They (Lakeridge) played much faster. They played much harder than us. They were gritty and tough and they kicked our butt.”

The Celtics competed early as quarterback Erik Barker connected with Devyn Shurr for a 47-yard gain on the first play of the game. After the drive ended with a blocked field goal, Lakeridge went 23 yards on three plays to take a 6-0 lead with 9:24 remaining in the first quarter.

But McNary answered with a 12-play, 73-yard scoring drive to take its only lead, 7-6. Barker hit Nigel Harris for a 31-yard gain to get the Celtics to the 1-yard line, where Junior Walling then bulldozed his way into the end zone.

The Pacers then took control, scoring on plays of 45, 61, 14, 18 and 20 yards to take a commanding 42-7 lead at halftime.

After Lakeridge added another long touchdown to begin the third quarter, McNary’s backup quarterback, Ryan Bamford, connected with Jacob Jackson for a 17-yard touchdown.

An interception by Harris gave the ball right back to the Celtics and Barker out-jumped a Lakeridge defender to catch a 6-yard pass from Bamford in the end zone.

Bamford then threw his third touchdown of the game, on a 9-yard strike to Wyatt Sherwood, to get McNary within 49-26.

Robert Benson scored McNary’s final touchdown of the season on an 8-yard run with 3:20 remaining.

“We played a little harder, a little faster, like we should have played the whole game,” Auvinen said of the Celtics effort in the second half.

McNary finished the season 4-6. The Celtics won all four of their Mountain Valley Conference games but were outscored 307-113 in non-league games.

“We did not do well out of league,” Auvinen said. “I think we have the ability. I think we just have to get the mentality going that we belong and get after it.”

Walling, Schmeltzer lead all-league picks

McNary had 10 football players voted to the All-Mountain Valley Conference teams.

Junior Walling, a First Team running back and linebacker, rushed for 951 yards and 11 touchdowns while leading the Celtic defense with 79 total tackles, including 44 solo and five sacks.

Joshua Schmeltzer was selected to the First Team at both offensive guard and defensive line.

He finished the regular season with 22 tackles.

Michael Ridgway (guard), Griffin Oliveira (receiver), Nigel Harris (corner) and Jacob Jackson (safety) were named to the First Team as well.

Oliveira, who was also voted a Second Team safety, caught 30 passes for 334 yards and two touchdowns this season on offense and recorded 51 tackles and two interceptions on defense.

Jackson, who was also honorable mention at receiver and kicker, had 62 tackles and five interceptions.

On offense, he caught 31 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns.

Harris, who was also honorable mention at receiver, recorded 27 tackles, seven pass breakups and two interceptions.

Dyami Rios, who had 69 total tackles and nine sacks, was voted to the Second Team at linebacker.

Erik Barker (quarterback), Nathan Young (center) and Noah Bach (linebacker) were honorable mention .

Jeff Auvinen was voted Coach of the Year.

West Salem quarterback Simon Thompson was named Offensive Player of the Year and linebacker Alex Hurlburt was Defensive Player of the Year.

Life of Wiley: OSAA rankings out of whack

McNary won its first league championship since 2005 last Friday.

The Celtics reward?

A road first round playoff game against one of the best teams in the state.

While the OSAA power rankings have never been exactly accurate, this season’s schedule, which featured five non-league and four league games, has shown a brighter light on its imperfections.

McNary finished seven spots behind West Salem, a team it beat handily just two weeks ago. The Titans have one more win and are benefiting from playing games against No. 1 Lake Oswego and No. 3 Sheldon. But neither of those contests was close and overall the Celtics played the tougher non-league schedule as two of West Salem’s wins came against No. 29 Grant and No. 23 Bend.

Of course, McNary also defeated Bend, in a league game.

North Medford didn’t do the Celtics any favors. After blowing out McNary to open the season, the Black Tornado lost six of their final seven games to finish No. 32 and barely make the postseason.

But the Celtics other non-league games came against No. 6 West Linn, No. 9 Tualatin, No. 13 South Medford and Tumwater, who finished 8-1 in Washington.

The Bend schools also have to be scratching their heads as Bend finished one spot ahead of Mountain View even though the latter just won 24-7 last Friday. Even more ridiculous, Sprague, who missed the playoffs after finishing No. 36, trounced No. 23 Mountain View 34-6 on Oct. 19.

The Olympians, who played an even tougher schedule than McNary, could not overcome a one-point loss to South Salem on Sept. 21.

How did McNary and West Salem’s non-league schedules prepare them for the playoffs?

My picks:

Southridge at West Salem

Neither of these teams enter the playoffs with a lot of momentum. While the Titans did blow out Sprague last week, they are just two weeks removed from falling at home to McNary. The Skyhawks ended the regular season with a 30-14 loss at home to Aloha. On paper, West Salem and Southridge have similar resumes. Both defeated Mountain View. The Titans lost at Beaverton by two points while the Skyhawks won at Beaverton by five. Southridge hasn’t won a playoff game since 2014 when it then lost by 42 points to West Salem in the second round. I’ll take the team coming off a win and playing at home.

Pick: Titans 38, Skyhawks 28

McNary at Lakeridge

Before Tom Smythe ever won a state championship at McNary, the legendary head coach won the title at Lakeridge in 1987. Smythe went a remarkable 157-32 in his first stint as head coach of the Pacers. But Lakeridge hasn’t had the same success as of late, posting a 7-20 record over the previous three years before finishing 6-3 this season. The Pacers, who last won a playoff game in 2014, were riding a four-game winning streak this season, before falling to No. 1 Lake Oswego 30-14 last Friday. That stretch included a 48-38 victory at No. 5 Tigard. Like McNary, Lakeridge also has wins over Sprague and Bend and lost at West Linn. This game will definitely test just how much the Celtics have improved after 28 and 44-point losses at West Linn and Tualatin in September. McNary is riding high after going 4-0 in league play. But the Celtics still haven’t played their best game.

Pick: Celtics 44, Pacers 40

Derek Wiley is the associate editor of the Keizertimes.

Last week: 4-0, Overall 30-16

Whiteaker falls to Parrish in championship game

Of the Keizertimes

Whiteaker’s varsity football team didn’t get its storybook ending, falling to Parrish 20-6 on Thursday, Nov. 1 in the Salem-Keizer Middle School Championship game.

“We came out flat,” Whiteaker head coach Tom Larimer said. “I think the kids were super nervous. We didn’t block well in the first quarter. We started to play better in the second quarter. We got close a number of times and just didn’t execute when we had to execute.”

The Wolverines tied the game at 6-6 when quarterback Braiden Copeland scored a 4-yard rushing touchdown with 55 seconds remaining in the first half.

Whiteaker then recovered an on-side kick and Copeland connected with Johan Singh-Sanchez for a 34-yard gain to get inside the Parrish 5-yard line. However, three players later, Copeland was tackled at the 2-yard line as time expired.

Parrish running back Josiah Davis then broke free for a 53-yard touchdown run on the second play of the third quarter to give the North Salem feeder the lead for good.

The Wolverine offense again drove inside the Parrish 10-yard line but weren’t able to score any points after a holding penalty set up a fourth-and-long at the 21.

Whiteaker’s defense then produced a turnover when linebacker Hunter Ruberto blitzed through the Parrish line and intercepted a handoff from Pioneers quarterback Nevin Zeller.

But even starting at the Parrish 14-yard line, the Wolverines failed to add any points.

“It was tough to run the ball against them,” Larimer said. “They’re big. They’re strong. They were putting eight or nine guys in the box and they were making it tough to run. They have some really good athletes up front.”

Micah Richter added an 88-yard touchdown run for Parrish with 6:52 remaining in the game.

Copeland got Whiteaker back into the red zone on a 59-yard run but the drive ended with an incomplete pass on fourth down at the 13.

Copeland finished with 99 yards rushing and 144 passing.

The Wolverines entered the game 7-0.

“I love these kids,” Larimer said. “They try so hard and I told them win or lose I feel exactly the same about them. I love these kids. They’re like my own kids now. I just feel grateful to be involved and to have this kind of interaction with these kids. Parrish has a bunch of good athletes and when they needed to make plays they made plays and they deserved to win that game.”