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Islanders, Knights rock 'Cats
The mighty oak that is the Mount Si basketball program shuddered
last week under the assault of twin buzzsaws wielded by the Mercer
Island and Newport basketball programs. By week's end, the
Wildcats had startlingly dropped two games in a row and had
unceremoniously dropped into second place in the KingCo 3A Valley Division
Playing at home last Tuesday night the 5-0, Valley Division-leading
Wildcats quickly found themselves attempting to play the other team's
game and came out on the short end, 61-49. The Islanders relied on a tough,
fast defense that seemed to bewilder the Mount Si squad, and then
concentrated on deadly shooting accuracy and rebounds to ice the contest.
The stands at the Mount Si gym were absolutely packed, but the
big Mercer Island squad brought a sizable contingent of their own which
helped to rock the joint. The Islanders quickly set up their game, going up 17-10
by the end of the first period and then motoring away. For their part,
the `Cats appeared a tad flat and overwhelmed, unable to rely on their
usual offensive weapons.
Mount Si scored first to open the second half on a Isaiah Cormier
basket which put the team within four points, but once again, the
Islanders danced away. At just under four minutes in the third, Mike Dahm scored
a beautiful one-handed layup off a steal which put Mount Si within one
point, but that's as close as the home team ever got.
Late fouls and the tenacious Mercer Island shooters and blockers
eventually did in the Wildcats. Every time the `Cats fouled someone, the
Islanders treated it like money in the bank, sinking 10 of 14 from the charity
line in the fourth quarter alone.
With just over one minute left in the contest, senior guard Ben
Eaton drained a three-pointer which left him looking startled, but all it did was
bring Mount Si within ten points again.
Cormier ended the scoring by swishing for three just before
the buzzer, but the game was already long over.
Cormier and Jason Arriaga finished with 14 points each, the
only Wildcats to score in double digits. Mike Dahm wrapped with nine,
while the normally dominating Chris Kaplan completed the contest with six.
"The lack of execution on offense hurt us," said a subdued coach
Garrick Phillips afterwards. "They took us
out of things that we wanted to do and disrupted our flow offensively.
We knew that man for man we were better than their team, but basketball
is more than just man for man, and they came out and executed."
The loss put the `Cats at 5-1 and 10-3 overall, tied with Sammamish
for first in the Valley Division. It also left them battered and bruised and
facing a 5-1 Newport squad that Friday night in Bellevue.
"We're going to bounce back," said Phillips. "I told the guys we
had a big game Friday in a hostile environment and we've got to
regroup. This will hurt tonight, but by the time we get to practice, we'll be over it
and looking ahead."
Unfortunately, the boys didn't completely recover by Friday
night's away game at Newport. Despite a valiant offensive effort that saw
Arriaga plunk a season-high 28 points, the `Cats went down again, 87-67.
The Knights came out shooting, scoring 29 points to Mount Si's 10
in the first quarter, and from there it was a cakewalk. Mount Si rolled 26
to Newport's 13 in the third, but the rest of the time it was the Bellevue
school that was applying the pounding.
Once again, the `Cats had trouble handling a team with a quick,
aggressive defense and was unable to put up enough points to remain within
striking distance. Other than Arriaga's strong night, only Cormier was
able to score in two figures, notching 10 points in the losing effort.
The Wildcats had a three-day weekend to lick their wounds and
then returned to the hardwood Tuesday night with a home game against
1-5/3-9 Issaquah. They play at home again this Friday, taking on 1-6/4-10
Liberty. The JVs hit the court at 5:45, followed by the varsity at 7:30 p.m.
While Mount Si is still in strong position for the Valley Division
flag and post-season play, next week could tell the tale when they take on
two .500-teams, Skyline and Interlake.