Sailors solve Riddle, get first win of season

Helen Burruss, #10, is a freshman but is already one of the leaders on the Mapleton basketball team. Micayla Flansberg, #22, is a senior on the Mapleton girls basketball team and has been with the program for four years. (photo Zac Burtt/Siuslaw News)

Mapleton finishes third at Cow Creek Classic

Dec. 15, 2021 — Last weekend, the Mapleton girls basketball made the two-hour trip south for the Cow Creek Classic, a tournament in Riddle that included, in addition to the Sailors, teams from Umpqua Valley Christian, Camas Valley and Riddle high schools.

Mapleton opened against Camas Valley on Friday. The Hornets were a skilled team and were able to buzz through the Sailor full court press for most of the game. In a case of “too little, too late,” Mapleton defense clamped down in the fourth and didn’t allow Camas Valley to score a single point all quarter. An impressive feat — but it was to no avail as the Hornets won 25-12. 

“We didn’t come to play, and Camas was disciplined,” said Mapleton Coach Vanessa Clemons. “We played better in the second half.”

The loss put them in a match-up for the tournament’s third place trophy against host Riddle on Saturday.

Though winless coming into Saturday’s game against the Irish, the Sailors, as they have all season, kept hopes high. The new coaching staff that has come in this year has helped to keep the team from becoming discouraged, maybe because they know things are headed in the right direction.

“Coach Clemons is very wise and believes in us,” said Mapleton senior Micayla Flansberg. “Assistant Coach Tucker Ford is young and learning, but knows basketball well. The two of them together form a powerful duo that has Mapleton sports on the comeback.”

The Sailors’ hard work finally came to fruition on Saturday. All the practice the team has put in on defense and specifically their full court press paid off as Mapleton got a huge road win 27-20 against Riddle.

“We worked hard defensively and got some good stops or forced some turnovers,” said Clemons. “Offensively, we started to swing the ball really well and got some good looks inside. Excited to see us start to put some pieces together.”

The Sailors hope Saturday’s victory is a sign of things to come.

“Our full-court press has been giving teams trouble,” said freshman Helen Burruss. “I'm excited for when we are able to really get it figured out. I think teams will have even more trouble with it.”

 A highlight of the win over Riddle was the play of Mapleton senior Jahala Blake, who is usually tasked with guarding the opponent’s largest player.

“Blake has improved so much this season,” said Flansberg. “She was our second leading scorer versus Riddle and was so aggressive on the court. She played very strong in the post position which gave us an advantage all game.”

The Sailors opened league play on Tuesday at Siletz Valley after press deadlines. Both the boys and girls teams will be at home on Thursday, Dec. 17, for their second Mountain West League games of the season versus Eddyville Charter School. Girls team tips off at 5:30 p.m., boys at 7 p.m.