In a league of her own, Maples leads Eureka’s multi-Niclai winners

By Ray Hamill — After winning just one Dick Niclai Tournament championship in the first 25 years of the tournament, the Eureka girls have been unstoppable in recent years.

On Friday night, they defeated Del Norte 43-26 in this year’s decider, claiming an historic first-ever third straight tournament championship for the program.

Several Eureka players have played on back-to-back championship teams, but only one has been a member of all three.

As a freshman in 2020, Claire Maples played a big role in the Loggers’ thrilling comeback win over Fortuna in the Niclai final.

She kickstarted the late rally with a key basket that night as they overcome a seven-point deficit in the final minute of the game on the way to a 38-37 win.

The tournament was not held in 2021 because of the pandemic, but returned a year ago with the Loggers beating Arcata in the final in Maples’ junior campaign.

They completed the three-peat this year with a comfortable victory over the Warriors, who had handed the Eureka girls their only league loss late last month.

Joining Maples as a multi-Niclai winner are 2022/23 teammates Amaya Gee, Moriah Bowles, Aniah Gaither, Taliyah Cooper, Mariah Napoleon and Isis Poteet, each of whom also played on the winning team last year.

Poteet, one of the team’s most influential players this year, could join Maples as a three-time Niclai winner if the Loggers can make it four straight tournament titles next February.

For now though, Maples is the only Eureka Logger ever — boy or girl — to boast three Niclai championships.

And her success doesn’t end there.

The multi-sport standout also is a two-time North Coast Section winner in soccer and also played a pivotal role on the Eureka softball league championship team last spring.

Maples and her teammates will look to add to their success when they open the NCS playoffs next week, before returning to the softball diamond in the coming weeks, where the Loggers will be expected to compete for a league title and more this spring.

Check out highlights from Friday night’s championship game above …

Ray Hamill/ – Claire Maples in action on Friday night.

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