Sports

Wildcats continue KingCo prowl

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Last week the Mount Si Wildcats continued their so-far successful

foray through the 1999-2000 boys basketball season, defeating one

non-league opponent while also disposing of the Liberty Patriots and Bellevue

Wolverines.

Last Monday night's contest with Liberty was another bell ringer,

with the Wildcats delivering a 98-55 stuffing of the Pats. Mount Si's

players went early and often to the charity line, turning in a remarkable 24-29 or

83 percent on free throws in the second half alone. Junior starter

Isaiah Cormier did much of the damage, rolling a seven for seven on penalty

points in the third quarter.

The game was already out of reach for the visitors by halftime, with

the hometown `Cats up 43-27. Mount Si would go on to outpoint the

Patriots 31-12 in the third quarter and 24 to 16 in the fourth, enroute to their

43-point margin of victory.

Cormier turned in the most buckets during the evening's

festivities, scoring 22 points. Senior forward Chris Kaplan followed with 19,

and freshman Logan Ratcliffe turned in 10.

The following Thursday night, Dec. 16, the Mount Si

hoopsters hosted the 1-0 Wolverines of Bellevue. Unlike the previous event's

blowout, this one proved to be a tight, fast-paced game with the Wildcats finally

pulling away for the 68-53 victory.

Starting seniors Jason Arriaga and Kaplan led the charge, turning in

21 and 18 points respectively, while Cormier dumped in 10. Dan Dicks

- Bellevue's leading scorer, all-state football star and a big,

intimidating presence on the court under normal circumstances _ was slowed up by

an ankle injury suffered during last week's game with Mercer Island

and only notched four points.

The first half was the hot one; Mount Si pulled out to an early

lead and never relinquished it, relying on strong rebounding to keep the

Wolverines in check. At one point junior Mike Helgeland scored on a nice short

pop to the basket. After Bellevue responded with their own layup,

Mike Dahm telegraphed a beautiful three-pointer that brought a roar from

the crowd. The noise level quickly ratcheted up after Mount Si took

the ball away and Arriaga scored his own long-distance shot, putting his team

up 30-21 with just under two minutes left. The half ended following yet

another Wildcat three-point shot, which bounced vertically twice before

sinking through the basket.

Both teams started the second half a tad cold, missing shots. The

Wolverines took the third in points, outscoring Mount Si 18-12, but when the

buzzer sounded the `Cats still had a 47-41 lead. Both sides traded shots

throughout the fourth while their coaches exhorted them on, occasionally

arguing with the refs. After one call Bellevue coach Jeremy Eggers drew a

technical when he stormed onto the court to argue with a referee. While an

assistant restrained Eggers, Arriaga sank one of his two free throws, putting

the Wildcats up 68-51 with less than a minute remaining.

That was it for the home team's scoring. Coach Garrick Phillips put

in the reserves, installing Logan Ratcliffe, Dan Flood and Sean

Fallows in place of some of his starters. The fans were stompin', the joint

was rockin', and the hometown crowd was yelling "6 and 0! 6 and 0!" as

Mount Si sealed its third league victory.

"It was a little bit tighter than the last couple of games," said the

coach afterwards. "I want to give a huge complement to Bellevue. They

really came out and attacked. I think they were outmanned in a couple of

positions, but they put up a real effort."

"It feels good," Arriaga commented. "They tried to make it into

a scrappy game, tried to get us out of our offense. I have to give them

credit, but we accomplished our goal."

"They're pretty tough," added Cormier. "They took us off our

offense a bit."

The romp continued Saturday evening, with a 79-58 non-league

win over Mount Rainier down in Des Moines. Once again, the team

relied on an outstanding free throw percentage of 90 percent and the accuracy

of Kaplan (22 points) and Arriaga (18) to shear the Rams.

The Wildcats finished the week at 7-0, 3-0 in the conference and

ranked fifth in state 3A. More importantly, they were alone atop the Valley

Division, which _ according to Coach Phillips _ was exactly where

they wanted to be. Cormier and his teammates, however, know there's still

a long road ahead.

"It feels great to be at the top, but it's just the beginning," the

junior phenom stated. "We have a lot to survive yet."

In the interim, the Wildcats staff and players can concentrate on

some of the finer aspects of the holidays … such as a trip to Southern

California for the San Diego Surf and Slam Tournament.

Leave the cold, cloudy, wet _ and probably snowy - Snoqualmie

Valley for Mission Bay, Sea World, MexPac and the San Diego Zoo? Such are

the sacrifices of high school basketball.

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