Sailors rally to land Eagles

Mapleton d Eddyville: 48-37

Siletz d Mapleton: 36-64

Mapleton d Eddyville: 48-37

Jan. 25, 2020 — The Mapleton boys basketball team won a hard fought victory over the Eddyville Eagles Thursday night in what coach Eric Wolgamott called some of the best basketball the Sailors have played all season.

The first quarter was a rough start for both teams. Two Eagles were out with injuries, and Saliors point guard Justyce Wierichs was already racking up fouls.

They held off the Eagles, 8-3.

“You want to score a little bit more than eight, but to hold them at three is something you really have to be happy about.”

But then problems occurred when Wierichs picked up a technical and was benched for the rest of the first half.

“When he sat out, that’s when Eddyville really picked up on defense,” Wolgamott said. “JJ [Neece] had to move up to point guard, which hurts us on the wing because we need him to free up opportunities. But we moved him to point guard and that’s where we got bogged down.”

The Eagles turned a 3-point deficit into a 5-point lead by half time, 15-10.

In the locker room at halftime, Wolgamott explained to the Sailors what was on the line.

“I asked the team, ‘What do you guys want? This could be a turning point in the season. We could either continue this trend, where we underperform to our standards, or you guys make the decision to come together. Flush the first half. You have a whole second half in front of us. We’re down five, it’s not ideal, but it could be worse.’ We let them talk for a little bit, they came out and showed us what type of team they’re going to be for the rest of the year.”

In just minutes, the Sailors was able to turn the deficit into a lead with a tight defense and strong offense.

“They had a fire lit under them,” Wolgamott said. “They showed that they do care. They showed that they want to compete and that they weren’t satisfied with hanging in there.”

Eddyville didn’t wilt, and there was a tense back and forth, ending with Eddyville up by just 2 points to end the third period.

“But in that third quarter we scored 16, more than we had all first half.”

But it’s in the fourth when the Sailors exploded, getting 22 points to lock the win.

“Twenty-two in a half is really good. Twenty-two in a quarter is amazing,” Wolgamott said. “That shows the type of offense we can become. The second half was probably our best half of the year. And Eddyville is a good team. They have some players and shooters.”

Wolgamott had particular praise for Wierichs, who led the team in points despite his foul troubles at the start.

“He came back in with the understanding that he had no room for error,” Wolgamott said. “Already with three fouls, he had to play smart. And he showed me that is capable of that. He could handle the pressure, and he helped us calm things down on our end, while at the same time putting the pressure on the defense attack. We need a leader who can play with something on the line, whether it’s no more fouls or tough situations. He’s shown that throughout the year.”

JJ Neece had 11 points, while Nate Neece had 11.

“AJ Moso only had four points, but for what he did on the defensive end — he’s becoming a really smart player,” Wolgamott said. “Now we just have to work on shot selection, but he’s getting that too. He can be a very complete player, one of the best on the team once he gets it all together. He’s becoming a really important part of this team.”

Kody Wierichs made a key 3-pointer toward the end of the game that clinched the win.

“That put the game away. I told him, he has to shoot when he’s open, don’t wait to take the shot. If you don’t shoot, it’s like missing every shot you take,” Wolgamott said. “You’ve got to make the defense at least know you’re a threat out there, and he did that when it counted.”

Wolgamott also gave a shout out to Jesse Hughes, who stepped up in the first half of the game after Wierichs received a technical.

“He got a lot of rebounds and gave us the stopgap that we needed right there in the middle,” Wolgamott said. “He did a good job, he listened, and he gave 110 percent every time. He got in there and played some smart basketball.”

After playing some of the best basketball all season in the second half, Wolgamott said it’s time for the team to stretch that out throughout the whole game.

“I told them, when you play that, you’re going to be a very tough team to beat when you’re able to do that for a full game,” he said. “I’m excited about what we’ll do next week. We’re 4-3 in league now, and we just have to take every game like it’s our last game. We have to go in with the mentality that we’re a good team and we do have a chance to win if we play our best. I’m excited to see what we can do.”

And the team will need to show that next week, as they travel to three different schools for matches, including Mapleton rival Triangle Lake.

“Triangle Lake, it’s always tough at their place. It’s a rivalry. I told them to enjoy this victory this weekend, but come Monday, it’s all about T-Lake. We just need to take care of business.”

Mapleton faces Triangle Lake on Tuesday, then Mohawk on Friday, both games starting at 7 p.m.

They then travel to McKenzie on Saturday with tipoff at 4:30 p.m.


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