By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Earning Greater Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year was easier for Matthew Ismay in his senior season at McNary, and not because he had already won the award twice.

“When I was a sophomore, everyone was just so much bigger than me,” Ismay said. “I would just get bullied down in the post. It’s a lot easier now when you’re a little bit bigger. It means a lot to me, especially when I was a sophomore I had no idea that I was going to get it but I always pride myself on defense.”

An emphasis on defense is exactly what McNary head coach Ryan Kirch needed when he started turning around the team four years ago.

Ismay consistently guarded the other team’s best player.

“It sure makes you look good as a coach,” Kirch said. “We always pride our program on being able to defend and rebound. When Matt was a freshman is when we started to turn things around and he’s been as influential and he sets the tone for us defensively. He’s just a tone setter. “

“He’s incredibly smart, incredibly physical. He knows his angles well. Guys who really understand the game see how important and critical he is. It’s a lot of hard work. He’s tough. He’s athletic and he prides himself on it.”

Along with winning his third straight Defensive Player of the Year award, Ismay was also voted First Team all-league. He led the Celtics in points (13.6), rebounds (5.08) and assists (4.92) per game.

“It’s a real honor to get First Team,” Ismay said. “I’ve taken a lot more shots and scored a lot more this year than in the past.”

McNary senior Sydney Hunter made the girls First Team. Junior Kailey Doutt was voted to the Second Team.

“She (Doutt) was right on the cusp of being a First Teamer,” Lady Celts head coach Derick Handley said. “That was a huge step for her. She did a great job.”

McNary seniors Adam Harvey and Cade Goff were selected to the boys Second Team. Alex Martin, Chandler Cavell, Easton Neitzel and Lucas Garvey were all voted GVC Honorable Mention.

Lady Celts Abigail Hawley, Paige Downer and Jaylene Montano were also honorable mention.