Feb. 18, 2022 — The Siuslaw girls basketball team played its last home game of the season on Feb. 15 when they hosted Junction City. Though wins have been hard to come by this season, the team has steadily improved. While they lost 44-8 to Junction City, the highlight of the night was the pregame ceremony celebrating Siuslaw’s three seniors.
First was Haylee Cole, one of the team’s two captains. According to Viking Head Coach Aaron McNeill, Cole is one of his most consistent players.
“Haylee always brings a smile and enthusiasm to every practice and game,” said McNeill. “She consistently encourages the younger players and does an amazing job of being supportive of all her teammates. Haylee has been a consistent contributor on both sides of the court.”
Next was Denali Sleeper, who serves as the team’s facilitator, unselfishly setting screens so her teammates can get open for shots.
“Denali has shown consistent improvement throughout the season,” said McNeill. “She has been an unselfish teammate and is willing to do anything that benefits her team. She has become a vital part of our offense, willing to set quality screens to open up her teammates for shots. Typically, when we get an open shot and score, it was due to Denali setting the perfect screen to get her teammate open.”
The last senior was Gracie Perkins, who is unanimously loved by her coaches and teammates.
“Gracie is our most experienced senior,” said McNeill. “GP, as she is called by coaches and teammates, is our best shooter from outside. GP is a quiet, lead-by-example player that is adored by all her teammates.”
McNeill, who returned to the helm of the Viking girls basketball program this year after an eight-year hiatus, couldn’t have been more pleased by the senior class he was handed for his first season.
“I have been fortunate to have three amazing seniors to coach in my return season,” he said. “Haylee, Denali and Gracie are not only great teammates, but quality young ladies. With such a young and inexperienced team, it is invaluable to have seniors like these young ladies that exhibit the leadership, dedication and enthusiasm needed during a challenging season. Each of these seniors is highly respected by their teammates. All are extremely coachable, have great work ethics and are eager to improve — characteristics that a coach desires in their players.”
As much as McNeill may be looking forward to the fresh start of next year’s basketball season, he recognizes the challenge he will face without these three important parts of this team.
“It has been an honor to have the opportunity to coach these three young ladies in their final year of Viking basketball,” the coach said. “They each have been valuable contributors to our program and will be greatly missed.”
The Siuslaw girls basketball team closed out their season Friday night at Cottage Grove after press deadlines.