Wildcats end season on sour note

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The Mount Si Wildcats and Bellevue Wolverines both played with lots of energy in their final regular season meeting Friday, but it was the Wolverines who had more in the end as they defeated Mount Si, 75-66, in KingCo 3A boys' basketball action in front of a lively crowd at Mount Si High School.

"It's not the way we wanted to send our four seniors out, but we're really proud of the way the kids competed. They really, really played hard," said Mount Si Coach Garrick Phillips, as the team said good-bye to four seniors (Scott Johnson, Bryan Gabriel, Jacob Waggoner and Joel Hendricks).

Steve Regener led Bellevue with a game high 30 points, and John Marcus Pinard pitched in 18 to help the Wolverines. Johnson and Jeremy Johnston each contributed 14 points to lead the Wildcats, while Hank Kennedy scored 11 (9 of which came in the second quarter), and Hendricks chipped in 10.

For Kennedy, it was a tale of two extremes in the second quarter, as he went from being a shooting machine for Mount Si early, to costing the Wildcats late in the quarter after he was assessed a technical foul.

However, that didn't stop the Wildcats' overall effort. They played a very fast-paced game, and had a lead which got as high as 13 points in the third quarter. But the Wolverines, behind Regener and 7-9 shooting as a team from the free-throw line in the quarter, got to within 2 at the end of the third quarter. They then went on a 5-0 run to open the final period to take the lead for the final time, despite strong Mount Si efforts down the stretch.

Phillips is pleased about his team's improvement over the course of the year.

"We're a heckuva lot better right now than we were two months ago. This is one of the best improvements in a group of players that I've been able to coach in my nine years, and from where we started three months ago to where we are right now is incredible. The growth that happened between these guys on and off the court was really fun to watch and to be a part of," said Phillips.

Next year, things look to be better. "We're switching into the (Valley) division and I'm really excited about our young talent. We got a core of guys coming back (who) have a lot of experience now, (and) we're going to have a heavily experienced team next year at the very (beginning) of the season rather than a lightly experienced team this year," said Phillips, but he added, "It's going to be hard. There's always big shoes to fill every single year."

With the loss of these seniors, the Wildcats will need to retool. But the Wildcats, led by Johnston, will give it their all next year and hopefully surprise people.

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