'Cats bounce back after third loss

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While the Mount Si Wildcats may have stumbled into a

late-season slump, dropping their third at home against Issaquah 56-63 Tuesday

night, they showed signs Friday of turning things around. Liberty came a

calling and had their bells rung by the `Cats, 82-44.

Tuesday, Jan. 19, the team allowed the visiting Indians to pull out to

a substantial lead, caught up, and then succumbed by a mere three

points. Issaquah dominated through the first half, holding the home team to 11

and 4 points in the first and second quarters respectively, while scoring 26

of their own. The `Cats responded by outscoring their opponents in the

last half, including a 20-15 surge in the final frame, but the Indians got

the last-minute points when it counted.

Jason Arriaga gave the `Cats their first lead, 50-47, with two minutes

left on the clock. The Indians responded by sinking a three-pointer, enroute

to a 9-3 end-of-game run that put Mount Si out of the contest.

Arriaga had another strong night, scoring 20. Teammate Isaiah

Cormier sank 10 points on the evening, trailed by Ben Eaton's nine.

On the plus side, Arriaga remains second among KingCo3A

scorers with a 17.1 point per game average. He leads in league scoring with

131 points in seven games, for an average of 18.7.

Friday night at home the Mount Si men showed signs of shaking off

their funk with a convincing 82-44 victory over the visiting Patriots of

Liberty. Seniors Eaton and Chris Kaplan came alive, scoring 15 points each

while savagely guarding the boards. Teammate Arriaga led the scoring with 18.

The Wildcats took the tip, scoring the first points on a lay-up by

Arriaga. Liberty responded with their basket and managed to stay even for

about three minutes, but then the Mount Si men raced away, steadily building

a substantial margin. The `Cats were all over the place, stealing passes

and converting, while on several occasions the Pats had trouble getting out of

their end of the court. The first quarter ended with Mount Si on top 21-7;

they finished the half with a 44-21 margin.

In the second half the home team picked up where they left off,

quickly going up 55-23. The Wildcats spent the final 16 minutes firing away at

will and connecting, while the frustrated Patriot players kept struggling to

close the gap. Give them credit; they never quit, but Liberty's deficit quickly

grew to 32 points by the end of the third frame. At the two-minute mark of

the fourth Coach Phillips put in Sean Fallows, Logan Ratcliffe, Dan Flood

and Bryan Gabriel and everyone sat back to watch next year's probable

starting lineup run the floor.

The victory put Mount Si at 6-3 in league play and - hopefully - back

on the winning track, although Coach Phillips realized that embarrassing

1-8 Liberty was one thing; beating a tough 4-5 Skyline and 3-6

Interlake this week could be quite another.

"The first two games last week we played good teams," said Phillips

of the recent 0-3 Wildcat skid. "We had ourselves prepared for Mercer

Island, butÂ…

"We bounced back and tried to get ready for Newport, but I think we

were still suffering the effects of the Mercer Island loss. Newport played

an excellent game, their team came out on fire."

Phillips felt his team had suffered a momentary lack of

confidence, which undoubtedly contributed to the loss to Issaquah. Now,

hopefully, they're heading off in the right direction again.

"We needed to get some confidence back tonight, and I think

we did," he stated quietly. "I think

that early in the season we were one of the best, and I think we can still get

back to that."

"We just went out and practiced," confirmed junior Marc Dahm.

"We had three games slip away where we should've had them. We knew

we'd get back on a winning streak."

Looking forward to Skyline, Dahm added, "They're decent;

they play a good zone. As for Interlake, we beat them the first time.

"We'll go in confident, but not too confident."

Mount Si played at Skyline Tuesday night, and will host the Saints

Friday evening. The `Cats finish their regular season schedule next

week with games against Cedarcrest and Sammamish.

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