By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Last Friday night, Dec. 13, the McNary High School varsity basketball team was something it hadn’t been in far too long: electrifying.
McNary beat Glencoe High School 60-48.
The mix of a buzzing crowd and fast, exciting play swept up many in attendance, but Celt senior Braden Taylor said it was the expression of a deeper attitude within the Celtic ranks.
“Our motto this season is ‘ubuntu,’ it means ‘I am because we are.’ We all have what we have because of each other and everyone’s really bought in,” Taylor said.
“It was crazy,” added senior Johnathan Doutt. “Part of it was the weather had kept us off the court, but that was also the biggest student section we’ve had at a game since I started playing.”
The Celts held on to the lead right up to halftime, but the Crimson Tide ended up with a one-point lead in the third quarter.
“We probably would have lost the game last year,” said Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach in his third year with the program. “But we stayed composed and made them play our game.”
Both teams shot 14 points in the third, but it was Celt freshman Cade Goff who rose to the occasion and kept McNary in the mix. He ended up with a team-leading 19 points for the night.
“He really surprised us, we knew he was a special kid, but he helped us survive the third quarter,” Kirch said.
Goff credited the support from the crowd with seeing the team through.
“It helped us keep our energy up,” Goff said. “We were also sharing the ball well, which is something we did in the spring league.”
Doutt put in 19 points, Tregg Peterson added nine, Taylor had seven, Hayden Gosling put in five and Trent Van Cleave had three. Doutt’s contributions included two three-pointers, Goff and Peterson had one each. Goff also led in rebounds with five.
McNary followed up that game with a 64-51 win over Roosevelt High School on the road Saturday, Dec. 14.
The Celts outshot the Roughriders 20-6 (12 points from the free-throw line) in the final quarter for the win, but Kirch said it was an ugly game up to that point.
“Nothing was in our favor, not the crowd, not the missed calls, and two of our players were injured or sick,” Kirch said. “But the boys found a way to win and that’s the thing they’ll have to do to keep the roll going.”
Doutt shot out the lights with 29 points against Roosevelt.
“We got up and down the floor pretty well, but our transition defense struggled a bit in the game,” Doutt said.
Taylor said the third quarter proved to be the team’s toughest for the second consecutive night.
“But we’ve got a maturity on the team this year that’s different,” Taylor said.
The test for the team now is whether they can make another mental switch.
“This is the expectation from here on out. We’re celebrating when we win and we come to work the next day to improve,” Kirch said. “We have to play with fewer fouls and blocked shots and stay mentally focused for 32 minutes.”
Taylor said all the pieces were in place to make it happen.
“It’s every day, get better. We have a big test with McMinnville High School this week. If we just focus on getting better, it’s going to be a good season,” he said.
The boys basketball has a new website this season. Visit www.mcnarybasketball.com for additional photos, stats and all things boys basketball.