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Wildcats win Kingco tourney, headed to regionals
It was quite a week last week for the Mount Si Wildcat boys' basketball team as they stamped their place in Mount Si basketball history, taking home a league tournament title.
Wildcats outlast Newport
The Wildcats last Thursday clinched a first-round SeaKing District Tournament bye after beating the Newport Knights in the Kingco Tournament at Bellevue Community College. But the win was not easy.
A 16-point performance by senior Kevin Englund helped Mount Si outlast the Knights 56-53 at BCC. Kyle Meuli added 11, and Ryan Reilly and Tommy Abbott each pitched in 10 points to help the Wildcats' efforts.
Erik Monger scored 16 to lead the Knights in defeat. A main factor in the teams' previous meeting Feb. 2 on the final night of the regular season was turnovers. In that game Newport turned the ball over 23 times and Mount Si scored 21 points off the turnovers to win 83-69 at Newport High School. The Knights improved their turnover numbers greatly in the game last Thursday, only turning the ball 12 times all night. Mount Si only scored nine points off those turnovers. By turning the ball over less, the Knights were able to keep the game closer.
However, it was the free throws that did Newport in. Mount Si hit 14 of 15 from the stripe, versus only five out of five for the Knights.
Brandon Mezistrano scored 12 points and Matt Winter added 10 off the bench to pace Newport in defeat.
Mount Si brings home the title
The Wildcats started out slow, but a 12-0 run to end the first quarter and hot three-point shooting from senior Kyle Clearman propelled Mount Si to the title.
Clearman scored 22 points, 18 of which came on torrid six-for-seven shooting from three-point land. Englund pitched in a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Wildcats to a thrilling 69-58 win last Friday night over the Sammamish Totems.
"We executed our game plan, played good defense, controlled the boards a little bit better than we have the last couple of weeks and shared the ball," said Mount Si coach Garrick Phillips. "We played like a team, and I'm really proud of these kids."
Englund received the league MVP honor following the game, much to the delight of the Wildcat student section, which roared in approval.
"It's a great honor to receive this award, but it's a team effort," Englund said. "We got out there and we got it done as a team."
The Mount Si fans were key, as the Valley community turned out in a strong show of support. Phillips thanked the fans.
"From the first league game of the year, we played at Issaquah and we had more people in their gym than they did and it hasn't stopped," the coach said. "It does nothing but motivate our kids."
Clearman was pleased with his efforts. "I was feeling it tonight. My teammates kept feeding me the ball, and I just kept knocking them down," he said.
Thomas Bright scored a game high 29 for the Totems; Danny Bright scored 13 to pace Sammamish.
Following the game outside the Wildcat locker room, Mount Si assistant coach Geri Spalding was holding the title trophy. Phillips expressed his pride in the accomplishment.
"Nobody can take that from us. These kids have earned it," Phillips said. "They worked their tails off for a lot of years to get to this point and, yeah, it feels really good. I'm really happy for the boys."
The Wildcats open SeaKing play Friday night at 8:15 p.m. at BCC against either Mercer Island or Chief Sealth. Mount Si is 1-1 against the Islanders this season; their loss to M.I. happened on senior night at Mount Si. Sealth is the No. 4 seed from the Metro League, and finished a distant second in the Sound Division to Rainier Beach, which won the Metro tournament. If the Wildcats win, they will play next Tuesday night at 8:15 p.m. at BCC; if they lose, they play next Tuesday night at 6:30 at Ingraham High in north Seattle in a loser-out game.