League playing looming, Viks growing

“Denali Sleeper had one of her all-around better games of the season,” said Viking Coach Aaron McNeill. Sleeper, a senior, seen here versus North Valley on Jan. 9. (photo by Zac Burtt/Siuslaw News)

SHS girls hoops hosts twelve team Crossover

Jan. 11, 2022 — Though that elusive first win is still the goal for the Siuslaw girls basketball team, the Viks continue to get stronger. They showed that growth with two non-league games last weekend.

Twelve teams, six including Siuslaw from the Sky-Em Conference and six others from southern Oregon’s Skyline Conference, came together at Siuslaw High School for the Sky-Em/Skyline Girls Basketball Crossover. Each team played two inter-conference games at Glen Butler Court or Siuslaw’s Auxiliary Gym, one Friday and one Saturday.

The Henley Hornets, from Klamath Falls, were the Vikings’ Friday night opponents. Siuslaw came out ready and played the best half of the season. With a balanced attack that saw six girls score, the Viks were down only 15-12 at the half, their smallest first-half deficit of the season. 

“We played our best half of basketball this season,” said Viking Coach Aaron McNeill. “We executed our man offense well, getting many good shots out of the flow of the offense. We played a solid first half of defense and competed on the boards, often limiting Henley to one shot per possession. I could not have been more pleased going into the locker room at halftime.

“The progress we have made this season was evident in the first half. That half gives us something to build on. We also had our best balance in terms of scoring, as six of our girls scored.”

However, the home team could not maintain the momentum of the first half and an aggressive full-court press allowed Henley to build a large lead and win the game 48-18.

“The second half, Henley applied a strong full-court press that created too many turnovers,” said McNeill. “Give Henley credit, they made some great halftime adjustments and created issues for us with their press and were much more aggressive on the offensive boards. We gave up too many second and third shot attempts. Then some foul trouble and tired legs set in late in the half.”

Stat leaders included sophomore Jane Lacouture with 4 points, 5 boards, 3 assists and a steal and freshman Macy McNeill, who had 4 points, 2 rebounds, a steal and an assist. Senior Haylee Cole also had 4 points and freshman Rhianna Lane had 5 rebounds for Siuslaw.

On day two of the Crossover, the Vikings hosted North Valley of Grants Pass. The Knights lost on the first evening of the event to Marist 39-18. 

Siuslaw, like the night before, started the game strong and went up early in the first quarter. North Valley came back to take their own lead and then used an aggressive full court press to extend that lead and take the victory 39-19.

“I was pleased with our effort today,” said Coach McNeill. “North Valley is a physical team, and we did not back down. We were competitive from start to finish, but again struggled to consistently reward ourselves by making more shots. Their full-court pressure created some turnovers, but our girls continued to compete.”

Lane had another great game for Siuslaw with a remarkable 7 steals to go with 4 points and 6 rebounds. Sleeper had 4 points, as did Cole and McNeill. 

“Denali had one of her all-around better games of the season,” said Coach McNeill. “Haylee had a great weekend and has become more aggressive offensively, something we need from her on a regular basis. Jane Lacouture is our workhorse, rarely coming off the court if ever, and has the challenge of handling the ball against opponents' defensive pressure. Jane continues to grow and improve as our primary ball handler and has been a great leader on and off the court.

“We definitely have some positives from this weekend's games to build on as we start league games next Friday.”

Sky-Em League play starts Jan. 14 when the Viks travel to Eugene to face Marist Catholic. Tipoff is 7:15 p.m.