Mapleton d Crow 28-21
Jan. 11, 2019 — The Mapleton girls’ basketball team pulled off its first win of the season Thursday night, against Crow, with the Sailors keeping a lead over the Cougars throughout the entire game.
“It feels great to get that first win,” Mapleton coach Mellissa Duffy said. “I know the girls are excited about it. We’re looking to build on that and use it as momentum going forward. Hopefully, this is a turn in our season.”
It had been a hard road for the Sailors, who had been nursing a 10-game losing streak before hosting Crow. It wasn’t until the Sailors played Oakridge last Saturday that things started to come together. For the majority of the game, the Sailors were not playing aggressively. But then, during the last four minutes of the game at Oakridge, they started to play hard, fighting for the ball, blocking with every ounce of energy.
“Something triggered them to give everything they had and just lay their bodies on the line — and they did,” said Duffy. “They saw how much fun that could be, to play hard and give everything you have. It gave them a taste of what it’s supposed to feel like when you play basketball. They want that taste again.”
Going into the Crow game, Duffy was looking to keep that aggressiveness going, particularly after a stinging 55-18 loss to Mohawk last Tuesday.
“We told the girls to come out hard,” Duffy said. “We’ve been working a lot on the idea of focus and playing as a team and just doing the things they do well in practice — and actually translating that to the game.”
The Sailors were aggressive from the get-go, fighting for every rebound, blocking every shot with intensity, driving down the court with ferocity.
And they took smart shots.
“Having the confidence to take the shots is what’s really great to see,” Duffy said. “When I see the girls that don’t often take the shots taking them, at a certain point I don’t care if they make them or not. As long as they’re putting them up there when they have a good look. If it goes in, that’s an extra bonus. Eventually, they’ll start falling, but they have to get the confidence to first take them.”
With Mapleton’s 21-4 lead at halftime, it was clear that they had gained their confidence.
“Keep up the pressure and intensity,” Duffy and assistant coach Dan Gray told the team during halftime.
“We talked about which girls to back off, which girls to play harder. And making sure we run our offense the way it’s designed and not getting frazzled or too excited because we have a lead. Still maintain focus,” said Duffy.
Crow also had a strong halftime speech, evident by the way they played in the third.
“The first half team stayed in the locker room and a more aggressive team came out,” Duffy said of Crow. “Crow stepped up their game. They made it harder.”
Mapleton was expecting the same team to come out but was caught off guard by the aggressive play the Cougars brought. By the end of the third, Crow had shrunk the spread down to 6 points.
“Our girls weren’t prepared,” Duffy said. “They thought they were going to go against the same team that they played in the first half. They had to wrap their heads around that and be like, ‘Okay, how do we play these guys now?’”
But they figured it out, holding off Crow’s growing lead in the fourth. When the final buzzer rang and the Sailors had won by 7, the entire gym erupted in cheers.
“It was really loud in the locker room after the game,” Duffy said. “There was lots of screaming and excitement. But we had to refocus them. We worked really hard for this first win. We reminded them of the goals for the season. This is great and enjoy the win — but make sure we keep working.”
Standouts for the game included Heather Wierichs, who started the momentum for the night with a layup in the first few minutes. She ended up with 11 points, followed by Opal Burruss with 9, Trinity Holmes with 3, and Daleena Bender with 2.
“Daleena is actually great from the freethrow area, and when we can get her the ball in there, she’s pretty consistent,” said Duffy. “Brienna works really hard to make the smart passes, and that’s great.”
For defense, Duffy praised Holmes and Brier Shird.
“They play really aggressive defense,” said Duffy. “My philosophy is defense really wins games. They definitely work hard and pull more than their weight when it comes to defense. I appreciate all the girls, but I appreciate their intensity on defense a lot.”
But overall, the entire team worked together to make it happen, said Duffy.
“They’re all working really hard,” she said. “I’m really, really happy and excited. I really do hope this leads to better things.”
The Sailors hit the road for their next game this Tuesday, at McKenzie, which tips off at 5:30 p.m., followed by the boys’ game at 7 p.m.
Both games will be broadcast on KCST 106.9 FM, beginning with pre-game coverage at 5:15 p.m.