Siletz d Mapleton: 30-52
Eddyville Charter d Mapleton: 27-51
Jan. 25, 2020 — After a pair of comeback wins for the Mapleton girls basketball team last week, the Sailors lost two this week — one away at Siletz Valley and another at home against Eddyville Charter.
“I think the girls played with a lot of heart and drive tonight,” Sailors coach Mellissa Duffy said after the Eddyville game Thursday. “They had urgency and intensity, and we wanted them to play with intensity. They brought that tonight, so that was a highlight.”
After back to back wins against Crow and Alsea, the mood on the team was high.
“We were really excited,” Duffy said, but the away game at Siletz was tough. “We lost a little bit of desire when we played Siletz. We didn’t play with as much heart and passion as they did tonight [against Eddyville], and that really hurt us.”
It didn’t help that the crowds at Siletz Valley are very vocal supporters of their players, which has been intimidating for many teams that have gone there this year.
“Siletz is a hard place to play because they have some really supportive fans,” Duffy said. “I think that might have gotten into our heads a little bit.”
But the Sailors didn’t let the loss get to them.
“We hashed it out in practice and they came out and played really hard Thursday tonight,” Duffy said about Eddyville, which was — on paper — supposed to be an easy win.
Last season, the only two games the Sailors won were against Eddyville, and neither were close games — 40-25 and 48-23. In fact, Eddyville hadn’t won a single game outright the entire season, if you don’t count a forfeit at the beginning of the season.
After Saturday’s tough loss against Siletz, Mapleton was thinking that Thursday’s match against the Eagles would get them back into the groove. But things didn’t turn out the way the Sailors expected.
“They’re just night and day from last year’s team,” Duffy said of Eddyville. “Honestly, they’ve improved so much since we’ve played them. They’re an athletic group of girls, and you can tell they put in the work to get where they’re at right now.”
In fact, Eddyville has gone from zero wins last season to being one of the best in the league this season, with a league record of 6-2.
“They’re not a bad group of girls at all,” Duffy said with a laugh.
The Eagles brought out a wide range of defenses against the Sailors, most notably a triple-teaming defense.
“Or double teams, at the very least,” Duffy pointed out.
Just after making a basket, instead of sending the majority of their five-person team back down the court, anywhere from three to four players would remain on their end — blocking the inbound pass by the Sailor with two, three and at one time even four players. Try as they might, there was a long stretch when the Sailors couldn’t get past the swarm of Eagles, who would promptly steal the ball, make a basket and then go back to triple teaming.
“It was effective for them, until it wasn’t,” Duffy said. “We did start breaking it. Their triple team only works if we allow it to work by being slow with the inbound. And so, once we got quicker with the inbound, taking it out and throwing it in, their triple team didn’t set up fast enough.”
Once their trap became ineffective, the Eagles then worked on stealing the ball outright. Seemingly easy passes between the Sailors were quickly snatched up by the Eagles. The Sailors suffered a total of 36 turnovers on Thursday night.
“I think that’s the highest of the season for us this year,” Duffy said. “I really hope that’s the last time we hit that number. It makes it hard to run a game if you have that many turnovers, because you don’t have the ball as much.”
Still, the Sailors battled on against the Eagles and, despite the difficulties, played a lot of good basketball on Thursday.
“They’ve gotten so much better since the beginning of the season. I think if we had better passes and caught the ball with confidence, we wouldn’t have had as many turnovers as we did.”
The team is taking more shots and the defense is improving.
“I’m constantly impressed with Brier Shird,” Duffy said. “Every time she gets the opportunity, she’s just out there hustling. She takes the notes and criticism and makes the improvement on the fly, which is really, really great.”
Duffy also praised Daleena Bender.
“She doesn’t get a lot of mention or accolades, but when she gets a chance to take a good shot, she usually hits them,” Duffy said. “She wasn’t as accurate tonight, but she is one of our girls that has a beautiful shot and can usually sink them.”
As for future games, Duffy is confident.
“The losses were tough, but I think we’re going to have more wins moving forward,” Duffy said. “I know it. It would be great to only have one more loss. We only have a couple more tough games, but I think we can hang with them. We can win. We’re going to try hard.”
Mapleton travels to rival Triangle Lake on Tuesday night, with tip off at 5:30 pm., and then on to Mohawk on Friday.