Jan. 14, 2022 — On Jan. 11, the Mapleton boys basketball teams hosted Crow. The Sailors came in 0-10 and were growing more anxious for a victory with each game.
The Sailors were ready to go. They led from start to finish and played their most complete game of the season. MHS won 41-29.
The team was aggressive from the opening tip. Before the Cougars knew what hit them, they were down 6-0. Crow went on a small run of their own, but Mapleton led 8-6 after the first.
The home team controlled the momentum all game using an aggressive defense. Keeping their arms extended at all times, the Sailors repeatedly deflected Cougar passes as they attempted to move the ball within their offense. These deflections resulted in fast breaks for Mapleton that often led to easy lay-ins. The Sailors led 16-10 at the half.
After halftime, the Sailors came out even hotter than the first half. Mapleton played one of their best quarters of the season in the third and extended their lead to 15 going into the final quarter, 30-15.
Crow tightened up its defense in the fourth quarter and began to chip away at the Mapleton lead. The Cougars had cut the lead to single digits with under three minutes to go and it looked like momentum was switching in their direction at just the right time.
However, at about the two-minute mark, freshman Alex Burnett got the ball, pump faked and fired up a quick three pointer. The shot went in. Mapleton was up twelve. Burnett’s three was the dagger that ended any hopes Crow might have had of a comeback. Final score Mapleton 41–Crow 29.
“I pump faked, got my man in the air and hit a nice open three,” said Burnett. “I felt really good to hit that at that point in the game.”
He finished with 5 points for the game.
Leading scorer for the Sailors was Joe Shepard, who had 18 points and also countless steals on defense.
Shepard, the only senior on the team, is unquestionably the team’s leader. This is his fourth year playing Mapleton basketball, so starting the season 0-10 has been rough because he’s seen what this program is capable of.
“Getting this win is incredible,” said Shepard. “We’ve practiced so hard and losing has been tough. The difference between this team and teams from previous years has been mindset. This team stays positive. I want to encourage that and make it grow.”
He talked about how the team played at just the right speed in the win against Crow.
“Coach wants us to play at a comfortable pace,” Shepard said. “Not a frantic or hectic pace that will get us frustrated, but calm and efficient. We did that tonight.”
Sailor Coach Eric Wolgamott was impressed by Shepard’s performance.
“You definitely have to give credit to Joe,” the coach said. “He’s going to be the one we rely on to score the most points. If we get around 20 points from him, we will have a chance in any game. He’s been everything I could ask for as a senior leader.”
Sophomore Keevyn Walker had 7 points for Mapleton and was extremely aggressive on defense all game.
“He’s our second scorer,” Wolgamott explained. “That’s a perfect role for him as a sophomore and once he gets a better feel for the game, those points will increase.”
Junior Tristan Stewart added 5 points for Mapleton. As the player that anchors the post for the Sailors, Wolgamott is glad to see his touch and control around the basket improving.
“Tristan is getting more comfortable down low,” said Wolgamott. “He’s starting to understand how to use his speed and especially strength around the basket. He’s really starting to blossom as our anchor down low.”
The win puts MHS at 1-2 and in sixth place in Mountain West League play.
Wolgamott feels pretty good about where his team is at this point in the season.
“If we can get a win on Thursday, that will put us at .500 in league play,” said Wolgamott. “After a season of disappointing results, it’s pretty crazy to think we’re still right in the thick of things.”
The Sailors were on the court at home against McKenzie on Jan. 13 after press deadlines. Their next game is at home on Jan. 18 versus Alsea at 5:30 p.m. The girls team plays immediately after.