Feb. 22, 2022 — The Mapleton girls basketball team took fans on quite a ride last week, winning two games in the Mountain West play-offs and barely missing out on a trip to the OSAA 1A Girls State Championship Tournament.
After taking care of Alsea on Feb. 15, the MHS girls traveled down Highway 36 to face longtime rival Triangle Lake in the second round of the Mountain West Conference play-offs on Feb. 17.
The Lakers finished fourth in the league standings, just ahead of the Sailors. The winner of the game between Mapleton and Triangle Lake would earn the right to play third place Crow for the league’s #3 seed at state.
A packed gym saw a back and forth battle between two scrappy teams fighting to keep their season alive.
With less than 10 seconds left, Triangle Lake held a slim 38-37 lead. Mapleton freshman Helen Burruss launched a three-point shot that banked off the backboard and barely missed going in. Triangle Lake’s Kiele Riggs got the rebound and sprinted the other direction hoping to dribble out the remainder of the clock.
Sailor senior Brier Shird decided she was not ready for her season to end at that moment. Shird jarred the ball loose from Riggs’ hands and deflected it to teammate and fellow senior Opal Burruss. Opal looked up and launched a perfect pass, all the way from half-court, to freshman Morgan Milbrett, who was in the midst of a perfect cut toward the basket. Milbrett caught the pass and completed an effortless left-handed lay-in to give the Sailors the lead with 1.9 seconds left.
Milbrett celebrated with a triumphant “victory jump” as she ran down the court after the made shot as the audible groan of the disappointed Triangle Lake crowd echoed through the gym.
Triangle Lake was unable to score, and Mapleton won 39-38. The Sailors would live to play another day.
Leading scorer for MHS was Opal, with 12 points. Fellow senior Jahala Blake added 10.
Next, on Feb. 19, Mapleton traveled to Junction City High School for a morning match-up with the Mountain West third-place team Crow, with the winner earning the league’s #3 seed at the state tournament.
Numerous fans made the hour-long trip from Mapleton to support their team. The fans from Crow came in equal numbers, making for a lively morning crowd and a nearly packed house for the neutral court match-up.
Crow went up quick early and it was 9-0 before the Sailors could get their feet under them. Mapleton scored 6 straight to close within three at 9-6, but sadly that was as close as the Sailors would be all day. Crow won 57-33 and will advance to the OSAA 1A State Tournament.
In other Mountain West playoff action, Eddyville upset Mohawk 52-47 to win the league’s #1 seed. Mohawk came into the league playoffs with an undefeated 14-0 regular season record and had beaten Eddyville twice already this season. Crow will travel to Perrydale for their first round match-up, while Mohawk will host Pacific. Eddyville earned a bye as the #1 seed.
For the complete OSAA 1A Girls State Championship bracket, go to www.osaa.org/activities/gbx/brackets?div=1A.