Wildcat girls make history

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BELLEVUE - The Mount Si Wildcats girls' basketball team has had trouble the past couple of seasons winning their first-round game in the Kingco Tournament, and that difficulty ultimately resulted in early exits from postseason competition at the SeaKing District Tournament.

That all changed, however, last Tuesday at Bellevue Community College (BCC).

In the last two seasons, those first-round losses for the Wildcats resulted in a fifth-place game with the Liberty Patriots. Both times Mount Si won, and last Tuesday was no exception. The Wildcats, behind stellar team play on both ends of the floor, rolled to a 67-31 pasting of the Patriots, clinching a berth in the SeaKing tournament.

What was especially remarkable about the victory - and the margin of it - was the fact Mount Si was playing two girls short of their standard 11-girl roster. Kaycee Crossan and Marie Will were both out, and Wildcat coach Dirk Hansen didn't promote junior varsity players to replace the two seniors.

"Well, I called my captains up to my fifth-period weight training class [last Tuesday] and [I] go, 'Hey, we're going to be a little bit shorthanded tonight,'" Hansen said. "But you know what, we dealt with adversity all year long, and so this is just a little bit more of it. They looked at me and smiled and said, '[Coach] Hansen, it's going to be OK,' and I go, 'OK, let's get ready to rock and roll then.'"

Senior Rachel Travis scored 17 points, and juniors Nicole Remish and Tori Ewing each scored 14 to pace the Mount Si effort. Travis credited her team's defense.

"We were fronting the post and that's what worked for us," Travis said.

Fellow senior Amy Brevick said the short-handed situation did nothing to change her team's game plan.

"We just go out there and run the floor like we always do," she said.

Ashley Hayes and Jessie Simons led Liberty with nine points each.

The confidence the Wildcats had picked up for themselves as a team on the strength of that win, combined with their win against Newport in the final game of the regular season, was dashed in one fell swoop Thursday as the Issaquah Eagles brought Mount Si back down to earth in a big way. Poor play on both sides of the ball did the Wildcats in and Issaquah humbled the Wildcats 62-25 in a tournament semifinal.

No Mount Si players scored in double figures. Led by Melissa Richardson's 15 points, the Eagles shot an amazing 65 percent from the field.

"It is hard to compete with that," Hansen said.

Things turned around on Friday with a historic win against the Bellevue Wolverines. Hansen talked about that history.

"This is the biggest win that we've garnered since I've been here at Mount Si High School," Hansen said. "We've never beaten Bellevue in a playoff game, or in a regular season game for that matter, so we're really, really excited."

Travis led all scorers with 18 points and Remish added 14 as the Wildcats won 60-50 to clinch third place. Mount Si's strong play on both ends of the floor was key, but what really turned out to be the difference was the absence of one key Wolverine. Senior Gretchen Buchberger, the star player for Bellevue who scored 21 points in Bellevue's 60-35 win over Mount Si Feb. 2 at Bellevue, injured her knee earlier last week and did not play. Buchberger could be out for the rest of the season. Tara Eddings, whose eight first-quarter points keyed the Wildcats' rally, said Buchberger's absence was apparent.

"Bellevue didn't seem as motivated, they didn't seem as intense," said Eddings, who finished with 16 points.

Lauren Coombs scored 14 to pace Bellevue before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats opened play Tuesday afternoon in the SeaKing District Tournament at Mercer Island. Should they have advanced out of the loser-out first round (not easy with the perennial power Bainbridge as one of the possible first-round opponents), Mount Si will play Thursday or Friday at BCC.

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