Old rivalry, new friends

Mapleton seventh grader Abbi Galvan-Mendez, #10, attempts to get a pass by the tight defense of Siuslaw seventh grader Danin Lacouture, #10, on Dec. 9. (photo Zac Burtt/Siuslaw News)

Siuslaw visits Mapleton for third annual middle school tilt

Dec. 15, 2021 — Some of Siuslaw and Mapleton’s younger athletes renewed one of the area’s oldest rivalries on Dec. 9 when Mapleton’s elementary/middle school team faced Siuslaw’s middle school teams in two girls basketball games. 

The excitement level was much higher than one would typically see for a middle basketball game. Supporters of both teams combined to fill the bleachers on one side of Mapleton’s gym. Along with a great turnout of home fans, many friends and parents traveled from Florence to support the Viks.

The rivalry between Siuslaw and Mapleton is a long and storied one; in fact, no one can say for sure when these two schools first met on a gymnasium floor or playing field. Before the late 1960s, the Viks and Sailors would meet in almost every sport, every year. These days the two teams rarely compete, at any level.

Credit should be given to Lou Burruss, Mapleton coach, and Jeromy Graybill and Ethan Dougherty, the coaches for Siuslaw, for helping to keep the tradition alive as this marks the third consecutive season the two middle school basketball programs have faced off.

“It’s fun to play Siuslaw — lots of friends and even family on the different teams,” said Burruss. “I'm glad they came up and played; I think it is a really great tradition and builds community across the two programs.”

In a bit of an upset because of the comparative enrollments of the two districts, the Sailors came out on top in both games. Mapleton beat the Siuslaw Blue team in the first game 27-10 and in the second game the Sailors doubled up the Siuslaw Gold team 24-12.

The Sailor sweep is indicative of the outstanding season they’ve had. With the two wins versus Siuslaw Middle, Mapleton improved to 11-2 on the season with their league’s playoffs looming next weekend in Crow.

“The girls are all working really hard and improving every game,” said Burruss. “Every player has scored a basket this season.”

The Viking middle school teams have not accumulated as many wins as the Sailors, but they’ve been successful in many other ways.

“Both Coach Dougherty and I have really enjoyed coaching such an amazing group of young ladies,” said Graybill. “They don't have a ton of basketball knowledge, but they worked hard, tried their best and had such a great attitude. We would like to think they got something out of this season because we both have noticed a great deal of improvement from the first day of basketball. The more experience they get by playing basketball, they will improve their knowledge and they could be a very successful team. As they go off to high school, we would love to see them continue their basketball career with Coach Truax and Coach McNeill.” 

Boys basketball, for both Siuslaw and Mapleton elementary and middle schoolers, begins after winter break.