KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Last year the Mazama Vikings girls’ basketball team finished 27-2 and won the 4A state championship. They did it with a one-day-at-a-time mentality. The Vikings know what their coach expects. Five of the current players were with Coach Joy Lease when the team won the championship last year.
“What I learned from last year is definitely we’re taking one game at a time and we’re going to go in with the same intensity as we do every game,” senior Megan Morris said.
“You have to be prepared going into Friday first and then everything after that is prepare one day after another,” sophomore Amber Lease said.
“You overlook somebody and it’s over,” Coach Lease said. “We’re not going to overlook anybody.”
That’s the mentality this team has as it seeks a fourth straight trip to Gill Coliseum for the OSAA state tournament. It’s a mentality preached by Coach Lease.
“Since I was a freshman, she’s always said that,” Morris said. “Each year it goes on and on because we don’t want to talk about each game from ahead.”
And no one knows Coach Lease’s expectations better than her daughter, Amber. Amber’s a sophomore, but ever since she started playing basketball, Joy’s been her coach all but two years.
“I can tell you during practice they’re not like mom and daughter,” Morris said.
“I feel like I have a way higher standard than a lot of the other girls just because I know what she expects in practice,” Amber said.
Those high expectations are the norm when Amber’s on the basketball court, but Joy says the coaching ends when they leave the gym.
“When we go home, we don’t talk about basketball unless she wants to,” Joy says. “That’s really the approach that I’ve taken with her. It seems to work. The other 22 hours of the day she has to deal with me as a mom. We spend a lot of time together so I think if I’ m Coach those other 22 hours of the day, she’s going to get burnt out real fast.”
But there are special occasions when basketball is welcomed into the house.
“We can go home and watch the state championship on TV and enjoy it together,” Joy said. “It makes it a lot more fun for me.”
“It’s great winning a state championship and being able to share that with yourself, and then you get to have it with someone that you get to see every day and so that’s something that you can always remember and look back at,” Amber said. “Fifty years from now, I can be like, ‘Oh, hey Mom, guess what? We won a state championship together!’ Not many people can say that.”
And even less can say they won two state championships together. Right now, Amber and Joy are only four games away from that, but first, Amber knows better than anyone, it’s one game at a time, starting with Friday.