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Wildcats Y2K-O Saints, Red Wolves
On Tuesday night, Jan. 4, the Mount Si Wildcats shook off the
effects of their "vacation" in sunny San Diego _ which resulted in their
first two losses of the season _ by delivering a 20-point pounding on the
Saints of Interlake.
The 72-52 victory put the `Cats at 4-0 in KingCo 3A play. More
importantly, it showed the Mount Si squad could notch up their game when
the opposition warranted it, and in this game the Wildcats had to get
physical early and often in order to overcome the shorter Saints' prowling,
in-your- face defense.
Interlake was up 11-10 at the end of the first quarter, relying on
slick passing and handoffs under the basket while Mount Si dominated
the boards. In the second quarter the Mount Si shooters reestablished
themselves and the team starting rolling up a substantial lead.
A Ben Eaton pass to Chris Kaplan resulted in a magnificent
alley-oop jam that brought the crowd to its feet with a roar, and the upbeat `Cats
went into the locker room with a 33-17 halftime lead.
The second half of the game degenerated into a "good old
fashioned hackfest" _ as coach Garrick
Phillips likes to put it _ with the Saints swarming and fouls aplenty, usually
called on the Wildcats. Interlake scored first to open the half, but Isaiah
Cormier responded by draining a three-pointer to put Mount Si up 36-19. The
`Cats kept the pressure on from there, regularly taking the ball away while
scoring almost at will.
The crowd cheered the home team and booed the foul calls with
equal enthusiasm as Interlake fought _ almost literally _ to get back into
the game. Mount Si maintained its lead throughout the fourth,
eventually building up a 21-point margin. By the end of the contest tempers were
flaring and after the final buzzer sounded, the refs ordered both benches to
stay off the court in order to prevent any confrontations.
"I didn't expect it to be this physical," said Kaplan after the game.
"Fortunately we practiced hard yesterday and we got fired up. We came
ready to play."
The senior forward recorded 14 points and 11 rebounds on the
night. Teammate Jason Arriaga rang up 20 points and 14 rebounds,
while Cormier scored 14 points.
"They're a really aggressive team," Phillips commented. "There were a
lot of slap fouls, and they're [the referees] are not going to get them all.
I don't want my guys to play that way.
"One of our keys was to stop their shooters. Chris Emerson, Mark
Dahm and Ben Eaton did a great job on the perimeter, blocking their
three-point shooters. Our kids matched their intensity."
The Wildcats traveled down-Valley Friday night for the first of
two games with the Red Wolves of Cedarcrest. The Wolves went into
the contest with an 0-4/0-10 record, having dropped a 63-43 heartbreaker
to Liberty Monday night, and they had nothing to lose.
Sure `nuff, Cedarcrest came out of the locker room all fired up for
the hometown crowd, and it showed through the first half of the game.
The Wolves played it close through two quarters, only trailing at halftime by
a score of 36-25. However, the rampaging `Cats asserted themselves in
the third by going on a 32-1 tear which wore down the
overmatched Cedarcrest squad. The Wildcats then coasted to the 82-50 victory,
putting them at 10-2 overall and 5-0 in the league.
"They put up a pretty good fight; it was a pretty close game in the
first quarter," said Coach Phillips on Monday. "I think there was a little bit of
a let down on our part, but I have to give all the credit to Cedarcrest. They
came out fired up and came after us offensively and defensively."
Arriaga and Kaplan did the most damage for the Wildcats in the
third, rolling in 11 and 8 points respectively. Kaplan was the high scorer for
the team with 24, followed by Arriaga with 16 and Mike Dahm with
14. Cedarcrest's top scorer was senior guard Morgan Henley, with 14.
Afterwards one parent noted the high level of good sportsmanship
displayed by each squad.
"The relationship between Jason Arriaga and Mike Smith was
commendable," commented the parent afterwards. "In the heat of the
moment, they were helping each other up and giving each other high fives after
a good play. It's refreshing, particularly after what happened with Interlake.
"I'd like to see the Mount Si and Cedarcrest kids commended for
their positive behavior."
Tuesday night, Jan. 11, Mount Si hosted Sky Division-leading
Mercer Island. The Islanders went up 4-1 in league play last Friday night with
a 68-58 victory over Issaquah. Come this Friday, the hardwood `Cats
travel to Newport to face another 4-1 team.
"Mercer Island's ranked in the state with us, so it's going to be a
really big match up," said Phillips. "We're looking forward to that
one. Newport is the only team that's beaten Mercer Island in league play this
year, so it's going to be a really good week for us."
The JV games start at 5:45, with the varsity taking the floor at 7:30 p.m.