The big man affectionately known as “Big Country” around Fife High School will likely someday chase an NFL dream.
Kaleb McGary is 6-foot-8 and country sturdy. Anyone questioning how immovable he really is should just ask the Sumner boys basketball squad.
Dominating around the basket and easily playing his best game of the season, McGary helped host Fife run out to a big lead before settling for a 62-52 victory over the eighth-ranked Spartans on Friday night.
The Trojans’ senior center finished with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds.
“He is our biggest advantage every game, and it doesn’t matter who we play,” Fife coach Mark Schelbert said. “We just need to recognize that and get it to him where he wants it.”
After beating Sumner and Clover Park, and playing White River to the wire earlier this season, it is safe to say the Trojans have joined the championship fray in the 2A SPSL.
“This year we have more teamwork than we’ve had in a very long time,” McGary said. “We want to play for each other. Nobody is in it just for themselves. I think this year could be a very special year for us.”
Entering the season, White River and Sumner (5-4, 3-1 2A SPSL) were considered the 2A SPSL favorites. Everyone knew Fife (8-2, 3-1) boasted arguably the league’s best frontcourt with McGary and Alex Lemoncelli as starters and Jephthah Donkor off the bench.
Normally a controlled-tempo offense, the Trojans got out and
ran Friday behind point guard Austin Woods (15 points). They made 10 of their 11 field goals in the second quarter to build a 33-19 halftime lead.
That advantage grew to 49-27 with 1:22 remaining in the third quarter.
But the Spartans would not go down quietly.
In dire need of a spark, guard Riley Bruil gave it to them. He scored all 18 of his points, including four 3-pointers, in the final 10:56 of the game.
Suddenly, Sumner’s full-court pressure started forcing easy turnovers. Fife committed six on its first seven possessions of the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, the Spartans scored on eight of their first 11 fourth-quarter trips, capped by Bruil’s 3-pointer, to cut Fife’s lead to 55-49 with 2:15 remaining.
But the Trojans settled down and went to McGary for three crucial baskets in the final three minutes. The last one, off a feed from Ventoe Woods, gave Fife a 59-49 lead with 1:14 to go.
“(McGary) was huge tonight,” Sumner coach Brett McDaniel said. “He probably played his best game, from what I have seen. Give him credit, he found areas to score. He showed some nice stuff.”
Schelbert isn’t ready to declare his Trojans league title contenders, but admitted they could make it very interesting.
“(White River and Sumner) are still the favorites,” Schelbert said. “They are still the teams to beat because we are still inconsistent.”email@example.com