By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
Even when everything seems to be going well, the McNary High School boys varsity basketball teams seems to end up on the bruising side of a bad break.
Such was the case for the Celts in their game with the McKay High School Royal Scots Friday, Jan. 24. The teams were tied 55-55 in the game’s final seconds when Scot Jacob Brustad hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer, The game was McNary’s fourth consecutive loss since starting league play.
“It was as good a game as we had all year,” said Ryan Kirch, McNary head coach. “We had six turnovers, we didn’t miss a free throw in the second half, we shot 50 percent from the field in game and 60 percent in the second half.”
McNary was never far out of reach from the second-place Scots. The Keizer team trailed by three at the half and had outshot the Scots in the second half until the final second. Celt Devon Dunagan had a breakout game with 16 points and seven rebounds.
“We were more focused and executed our plays better,” said Celt Tregg Peterson. “Devon dominated inside and that was a big help.”
Johnathan Doutt had 13 points with three treys in the game; Peterson had 10; Trent Van Cleave had six; and Connor Goff had four.
Kirch said Dunagan is expected to make more waves having fully recovered from a broken ankle he suffered just prior to the start of the season.
Prior to the McKay game, McNary squared off with Sprague High School on the road Tuesday, Jan. 21. The Celtics rallied from trailing the Olys 30-18 at halftime to finish the game in a much tighter 60-58 loss.
“We had a great second half against Sprague, but we missed 10 or 11 shots that made the difference. We weren’t quite ready to play at the start of the game,” Kirch said.
Peterson led the team with 14 points; Doutt put up 13; Van Cleave had nine; Dunagan had 7; Hayden Gosling had five; Goff had four and Hayden McCowan sunk one from the free throw line. McNary had eight three-point goals on the night; Peterson and and Doutt had three each.
Despite facing clutch situations in both games, Gosling said the team has a different feel now than it did even a few weeks ago.
“Before we were just looking for individuals to make plays, but now we’re clicking as a team,” he said. “We know we can shoot the ball from the perimeter against some of the teams that are bigger than us, but we have to maintain the leads when we get them.”
The loss to McKay was one of the hardest to swallow, but Kirch said the team is responding well.
“I’m proud of our kids’ response to it. They are able to leave the gym knowing they can beat these teams,” Kirch said. “We just have to get over the hump and take one of the close ones.”
McNary finished its first run through the Central ValPrint