Mapleton loses close one to Lakers


“They’re playing with more passion, more heart. And I like to see that" — Coach Melissa Duffy

T. Lake d Mapleton: 41-33

Dec. 21, 2019 — The Mapleton girls basketball team battled it out with Triangle Lake in a hard-fought game Thursday night which saw the Sailors lose to the Lakers by 8 points, their lowest point-loss of the season thus far.

“I think it went well,” head coach Melissa Duffy said. “Obviously, it could have been better because we could have won. But we had a bigger variety of girls taking shots. We had more passing to the inside than we usually have, and better defense. There’s still lots of improvement to be made, but they’re getting tougher and a bit more basketball smart.”

While the Lakers came out with a win at the end of the night, the Sailors definitely made them work for it. The game started off with a low score, with the Sailors making some smart shots.

“They were mixing their defenses in the first half, they were playing their zone,” Duffy said. “The girls were also trying to process what they were looking at. They were taking stock in what they were approaching.”

But they also got into some foul trouble, which allowed the Lakers to stay in the game, ending the first quarter in a tie.

In the second, the Lakers began to pull away, ending the second with 19 points over the Sailors’ 15. It’s at that point, the Sailors fought back, posting a strong defense throughout the third period and climbing out of the deficit — ending the quarter up by one basket, 23-21.

“I think they’re starting to see the person in the middle and how you can use that person on the baseline in the middle to get those easy buckets,” assistant coach Dan Gray said.

“And I think Opal [Burruss] was aggressive,” Duffy added, noting that Burruss was the high scorer of the game with 12 points. “She made a couple of back to back in there, got some shots. But I think all that starts with our defense. When you play good defense, it leads to good offense.”

The energy in the Mapleton gym was high as the Sailors looked to extend their lead in the fourth quarter, but a couple of well-placed shots at the beginning followed by two freethrows put the Lakers back on top. The game seesawed for a few minutes, but the Lakers pulled away in the final minutes, with the Sailors were unable to recover.

“We got a little tired and things slacked off,” Gray said. “But for the most part, our defense was really solid. We saw some really good things out of the girls. A little better court awareness, bringing the ball up against the press.”

As for things to work on, the defensive rebounding put the team in a hole on Thursday.

“That was really the difference of the game. They would get an offensive rebound and would end up either getting it back or we would end up fouling them and putting them on the free throw line.”

The Sailors are finishing up their seventh game in three weeks, which Gray called a “brutal” schedule.

“It’s going to slow down, and the girls will be able to catch their breath. We’ll be able to have decent practices,” Duffy said. “That’s been an issue for us, because we have one gym for all of the middle school and high school. When we have a middle school game, we can’t really practice here. So, we don’t get as good as quality of practice time as we need.”

But as the schedule normalizes after the holiday break, the practices will be easier to schedule and Duffy believes this will only improve on what’s been a season of progress of the Sailors.

“To be honest, we don’t have anywhere to go but up. We will get better with every game,” she said. “They’re playing with more passion, more heart. And I like to see that.”

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