Lady Celts show improvement despite loss

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McNary’s Lauren Hudgins looks for a shot around the long arms of Cav defender Erica Pagano in a game Friday, Jan. 4. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

McNary’s Lauren Hudgins looks for a shot around the long arms of Cav defender Erica Pagano in a game Friday, Jan. 4. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

Despite losing the game and a key player minutes before the game, Paul Pickerell said he couldn’t have been happier with the McNary High School girls varsity basketball team in its outing against Clackamas High School.

“I was super proud of them because it was the hardest they’d played for four quarters so far this season,” Pickerell, McNary head coach, said.

The Cavaliers wasted little time in building a 25-point lead in the first half of the game Friday, Jan 4, as McNary struggled to make even meager gains. Eight points in the first period for the Celts was followed up with an even more anemic three points in the second period. The teams headed into halftime with Clackamas leading 36-11.

“The first half was rough, but we never really gave up,” said Lady Celt Caitlin Tartak. “Not giving up on each other really helps us stay in the matches that are tough or going to be tough.”

McNary bounced back to a 17-point second half and managed to drain some of the life out of the Cavs’ offense, but fell 53-28.

“We had some problems with their press, but we didn’t give up despite being down by a lot,” said Lauren Hudgins, a McNary sophomore.

Madi Hingston and Hudgins led the Celtics with seven points apiece, Reina Strand put in four including a trey, Stacey Titchenal had three points, Tartak and Madie Rohl had two each and Jessica Darras had one.

During warm-ups prior to the games, the Celtics leading scorer Teresa Peterson was injured with a sprained ankle. She’ll likely be out for several games, thinning a roster that already lost point guard Baili Keeton to a broken leg.

In addition to averaging 16 points a game, Peterson averaged four steals and chewed  about 28 minutes off the clock in every game she played.

“She’s tough to replace, we’re going have to do it by committee, but it will help with those kids getting more minutes on the floor,” Pickerell said.

Hudgins will be moving up to post and Darras will move out to wing to accommodate other players in their positions.

The Celtics began league play with the 15th-ranked South Salem High School Saxons Tuesday, Jan. 8. It was one of the reasons Pickerell was so happy with the ladies’ performance against the third-ranked Cavs.

“We’ve played teams that do similar things to what our league opponents will do and that will help us. We’re battle-tested against some tough teams,” he said.

“Those games help us to compete with teams that are ranked higher because they show us where our weaknesses are and what we need to do to get better,” added Hudgins.

Despite a middling 6-7 preseason record, Tartak said the Lady Celts will not be hanging their heads.

“We have a lot of new people, but for such an inexperienced team we did really well in the preseason and had good chemistry,” she said.

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