'Cats win number two

— image credit:

Mount Si guaranteed themselves a place in the final state 3A

basketball championship standings on Friday with a dominating 9-point win

over Ellensburg in the Mercer Arena.

The 51-42 victory win earned the Wildcats the opportunity to play

again Saturday morning in the consolation bracket against the Rams from

North Thurston High School. The winner will be crowned as the fifth-place

finisher in the statewide tournament, while the loser was guaranteed

an eighth-place trophy.

Junior Isaiah Cormier scored 18 points on a 5-for-8 shooting day

from the field. The 6-1 guard was also 8-for-10 from the free-throw stripe as

the Wildcats improved their overall season record to 18-11.

Senior Jason Arriaga—playing in what could have been the last game

of his high school career—added 12 points, eight rebounds and three

assists. Arriaga scored 30 points in Thursday's quarterfinal win

over Franklin Pierce.

The Wildcats followed an old familiar pattern by falling behind

early against Ellensburg, trailing after the first quarter 10-6 to the

less-athletic Bulldogs.

But Mount Si rallied behind Cormier in a decisive second

quarter as the Wildcats took control of the boards and went into the locker

room with a slim 22-21 advantage at half- time. The advantage came in the

form of a three-point bomb by junior Sean Fallows with 1:06 left in the

second quarter. Fallows began the 1999-00 season on the Wildcat junior

varsity team.

Ellensburg kept the score close and tied the game at the end of three

quarters at 32 each.

Facing elimination, Mount Si took control in the paint and won the

game going away by outscoring the Bulldogs 19-10 in the final eight

minutes of play. Mount Si took the lead for good at 33-32 on a free throw

by Cormier.

"We play much better with our backs against the wall," said

senior forward Chris Kaplan, who finished with 10 points against

Ellensburg. "We've surprised a lot of people

who thought we were a joke."

Trailing in the late moments of the contest, Ellensburg began to

gamble on defense. The Wildcats made them pay when Kaplan scored on a

two-handed dunk, Arriaga sank a baseline jumper and Cormier added

insult-to-injury with a tip-in for the final margin of victory.

North Thurston won a spot in Saturday's consolation final with

an exciting 52-50 overtime win over Blanchet Friday afternoon.

Senior Levi Markowski scored a game-high 21 points, including a lay-in at

the buzzer as the Rams eliminated the Braves.

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