Wildcat basketball headed to state

The Mount Si Wildcat boys' basketball team only needed one win last week to make state. They got that win, but suffered two tough losses to elite state powers along the way at the SeaKing District Tournament at Bellevue Community College.

Wildcats no match for future Husky and his Seattle Prep team

It was a difficult night last Tuesday for Mount Si as they suffered a setback at the hands of Seattle Prep.

It was all about Spencer Hawes for Prep. The Panther senior, who is headed to the University of Washington to play college ball next season, with the NBA likely not far behind, scored 20 points and added 15 rebounds for a double-double as Prep clinched a berth to state with a big 68-41 pasting of the Wildcats. Not only did Seattle Prep take care of business on the scoreboard, they took care of it in the paint, outrebounding Mount Si 44-17. Off that rebounding advantage came 16 second-chance points.

Kevin Englund scored 20 points to lead Mount Si. Englund was the lone Wildcat to score in double figures and fellow senior Kyle Clearman, whose three-point heroics had been key in the previous two Mount Si victories, was held scoreless. As a result the Wildcats were held to 2-10 from outside the three-point line.

Jordan Bremond scored 12 points, and Gerald Grissette scored 13 off the bench to pace the Panthers.

Boy, what a relief

As was the case against Chief Sealth in the first round Feb. 17, Mount Si was given all they could handle against Kingco rival Sammamish last Thursday. But like the three previous times these two teams have met, the Wildcats found a way to get it done one more time and made it to state for the first time since 2000.

Tommy Abbott's free throws with seven seconds left gave Mount Si a 51-49 lead, and after Sammamish's game-winning attempt at the buzzer missed badly, the Wildcats celebrated.

"I'm really happy for this group of kids. It's something that they definitely deserve and they worked their butts off to get," said Mount Si coach Garrick Phillips.

Abbott finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, team highs for the Wildcats. The Brights from Sammamish (Danny, with 15, and Thomas, with 12) provided the high scoring numbers for a Totems team that persevered right up until the bitter end. Sammamish had played the last several weeks without their best player, Jaz Giacchetti, and their team toughed it out and made a run at it.

Clearman, one of eight Wildcat seniors, was still coming to grips with his team's accomplishment. "I can't believe we're going. It's overwhelming. It hasn't really hit me yet, but this is what we've been working for eight years now with this group of kids," Clearman said.

Mount Si tunes up for Tacoma with competitive game against O'Dea

The Wildcats last Saturday played O'Dea tough, but fell to the Irish 68-57. A 22-12 second quarter provided the cushion for the perennial state power from the Metro League to close out a No. 3 district seed. Mount Si earned the No. 4, and final, SeaKing seed.

Englund led the Wildcats with 17 points, while Abbott added a dozen to the cause. Four players scored in double figures for O'Dea, led by the game-high 20 points of Michael Duty. Reggie Moore added 17; Josh Scott came off the bench to score 15; and Jamelle McMillan, son of Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan, pitched in 11 for the Irish. Ryan Reilly popped in nine points to pace Mount Si.

Tournament preview

In Tacoma this week, the Wildcats will face quality opposition. Among the favorites are Seattle Prep, O'Dea, Renton and Spokane's North Central. Englund says his team will have to think fast in order to get it done. "Teams are going to come out and get after us, and they're going to pressure the ball, and basically we're just going to have to move the ball quickly. We've got to get out and hit the open man as soon as the person's open, and we've just got to move the ball around and we'll get our shots," Englund said.

Those who go to the Tacoma Dome to see the games will likely see a strong student section. Mount Si students travel well when their team is in a state tournament and this is likely to be no exception. "Throughout the entire season we've had the best fans in the state. I think it's safe to say that we've had some of the best support out of any team in the state,and when we're playing in the state tournament at the Tacoma Dome. It's just going to get better. They're going to be out there as the sixth man," Englund said.

The first game is Wednesday and the Wildcats could play all the way to Saturday with a possible state title game. Should Mount Si make the title game, it would be Saturday night and be televised.

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