Lions dash Wildcats' postseason dreams

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MERCER ISLAND - Turnovers in key situations found the Mount Si Wildcats boys' basketball team watching their six-game winning streak, and their postseason dreams, come to a sudden end in the first round of the Sea-King 3A District Tournament last week.

The Metro League's sixth seed, the Lakeside Lions, were able to rally from a 55-50 deficit to defeat the Wildcats 74-68.

Senior guard Nick Scott scored 24 points and went 13-for-15 from the foul line in the fourth quarter. Fellow senior guard Jake Cox added 19 as the Lions downed Mount Si to advance in the Sea-King District. The efforts of the Lions outlasted a huge 23-point night by the Wildcats' junior guard Erik Tierney, who hit seven three-pointers, including a couple in the fourth quarter, which gave Mount Si the lead. Senior post Jeremy Johnston scored 19 points to pace Mount Si.

Wildcats' coach Garrick Phillips was stunned.

"It's kind of tough, something I never really prepare for, but I certainly didn't think it was going to happen tonight," said Phillips.

The Wildcats had been behind virtually the entire game, but rallied to tie the game at 42-42 to end the third quarter. Mount Si fell behind early in the fourth, but thanks to Tierney's heroics, rallied to take a 55-50 lead midway through the final quarter.

Following a questionable call, the Lions went on a 24-13 run to finish the game.

The Wildcats' valiant efforts had fallen short, and it didn't help matters any that they started turning the ball over a few too many times at mid-court late, allowing Lakeside to pad their victory margin.

The team is already looking forward to next year. Sophomore Kyle Clearman sees the positive aspects.

"It'll give us a lot of experience next year. We're a young team this year and we've got a lot of guys coming back so [it's] going [to] be fun," said the guard.

Phillips said to look for potential big changes next year with the graduation loss of Johnston in particular.

"It's going to be an interesting off season. The kids are going to have to really work harder to get stronger because offensively is one thing, you can play without a post on the offensive end, but defensively [is where we're] going to have a challenge and that's where we're going to have to get better is our post defense from all of our kids and get a lot stronger, get in the weight room, and just improve in all aspects of our game," said Phillips.

As for Johnston, he's not sure what's next for him.

"Don't know where exactly I'm going to be headed, but we'll see how that goes," said Johnston.

That said, it is likely Johnston will be playing college ball somewhere next year.

The Wildcats finished their season 11-12, and along with Johnston, will lose Jarrod Wiegardt, Eric Meuli, Jordan Proudfoot, Luke Landdeck and Evan Hillburn to graduation. Expected top returning players next year include Clearman and Tierney.

The Wildcats also will likely be looking for big contributions from reserves Ryan Reilly, Kyle Meuli and Kevin Englund, who, along with Clearman, will all be juniors in 2004-2005. Tierney will be a senior next year.

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