Mapleton: 08 09 17 15 — 49
WVC: 10 06 18 10 — 45
Dec. 8, 2018 — The opening minutes of last Tuesday’s home matchup against Willamette Valley Christian didn’t bode well for the Mapleton boys basketball team, which found itself quickly trailing 0-6 after a pair of long 3-pointers by the Warriors.
But with 4:24 left in the first quarter, junior Nathan Roane sank the Sailors’ first bucket after a steal by junior Nate Neece. The Warriors scored twice more in the period, but Neece, along with sophomore JJ Neece and freshman AJ Moso were able to tie the game at 8-8 before Willamette was able to take a 2-point lead entering the second quarter.
Evan Moso, the Sailors’ lone senior, tied things up less than a minute later, followed by a freethrow from Nate Neece for Mapleton’s first lead of the game. A steal by JJ Neece led to a fastbreak lay-up and 13-10 lead, which the Sailors extended to 17-10 on scoring from JJ and Nate Neece — and prompting a Warriors timeout with 1:47 left in the half.
Willamette came back and scored a pair of baskets, leaving the Sailors holding a narrow 17-16 lead entering the half.
“The game was a bit of a rollercoaster, but it's good for us to experience close games where we have to battle start to finish,” said Mapleton coach Eric Wolgamott. “You have to learn how to keep playing hard in order to build a successful program.”
The third period started out much the same as the first as the Warriors scored the first two buckets and a freethrow for a 6-point, 23-17 lead. AJ Moso was the first to score for Mapleton in the half, followed by a bank-shot from inside the paint by JJ Neece. Evan Moso scored on a rebound to put the Sailors within 1 point, then the senior scored another rebound to regain Mapleton’s lead, 24-23.
The teams exchanged baskets for the remainder of the period, with Moso sinking a 3-pointer to help keep the Sailors within 1 point, 34-35, heading into the final quarter.
Though the Warriors were able to strike with a trio of 3-pointers in the first four minutes, the Sailors were able to keep close with scoring from Nate and JJ Neece, and Roane.
Then, with 1:47 remaining on the clock, Mapleton was dealt a pair of tough blows as Evan Moso fouled out and JJ Neece left the game with a rolled ankle.
“With only seven players on our roster, we really depend on who comes off the bench,” said Wolgamott.
That responsibility fell to freshman Joe Shepherd and sophomore Jeremy Bender, who came in off the bench with the game tied at 45-45.
Though Bender missed both freethrow attempts, AJ Moso scored a rebound on the second shot to give Mapleton a 2-point lead, 47-45.
The Warriors gave up possession twice in the final 42 seconds, throwing the ball away on bad passing thanks to pressure by the Mapleton defense.
“I was confident our guys off the bench would be able to keep up the pressure, which is all we needed once we had the lead,” Wolgamott said.
Nate Neece went to the foul line in the last 14 seconds, making both shots for a 49-35 lead.
Though Willamette was able to have the final possession, Mapleton’s defensive pressure kept the Warriors off the scoreboard to hold on for the win.
“It was a good win for our team,” said Wolgamott. “We had to fight for it and overcome some challenges. Those things build character for a young team.”
The next night, Mapleton was back on its home court where it hosted 2A Monroe, losing to the Dragons (3-1) 83-41.
Tuesday, the Sailors will open the Mountain West League season on the road at Triangle Lake.
Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m.