Mount Si boys use tourney experience to beat Bishop Blanchet | Basketball

Eyes in the sky, Mount Si senior Zander Nelson attempts a shot at the Bishop Blanchet basket. He scored 14 points in the game. - Mark Lowry / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Eyes in the sky, Mount Si senior Zander Nelson attempts a shot at the Bishop Blanchet basket. He scored 14 points in the game.
— image credit: Mark Lowry / Snoqualmie Valley Record

The Wildcat boys basketball team used some lessons learned at a competitive California tournament to beat a local team last week.

Mount Si defeated Bishop Blanchet 76-70 on Saturday, Jan. 3. Tanner Riley scored 27 to lead the Wildcats in a well-played, high-intensity contest. Dallas Smith scored 16, and Zander Nelson added 14 to pace Mount Si. Brian Matous scored a game-high 33 to lead Blanchet.

“We’re definitely improving defensively,” Wildcat coach Jeff D’Ambrosio said. “If we play defense like that, we’ll be all right.”

The coach added that this was a good test for his team.

“These are the teams we have to beat to go to state,” he said.

Mount Si resumes Kingco play Friday, Jan. 9, at Juanita. Game time is set for shortly after 8 p.m. following the Wildcat-Rebel girls’ game.

San Diego experience

The boys traveled over winter break to San Diego, playing in the Surf n’Slam tournament for the third time in the program’s history and their first since 2004.

The trip enabled the team to see some different styles of play, and do some off-the-court bonding.

Nelson said the tournament was a success for the team, which faced off against strong competition.

“We got some good experience from it,” Nelson said.

“A lot of the teams played a variety of different ways,” added fellow senior Taylor Campbell.

The Wildcats played in the Surf division, and opened play with a game against the host school, San Diego’s Mission Bay. Tanner Riley scored 26, and Mount Si got solid performances from Lucas Zupan with 19 points, and Smith with 15 points, as the Wildcats advanced into the semifinals with a 71-64 win over the Buccaneers.

The team took the day off on Sunday, Dec. 28, but got to learn a little bit about the animal kingdom, as the Wildcats spent the day at the San Diego Zoo.

“That was a lot of fun,” Nelson said. “It was probably one of the best zoos in the world. It’s huge, way bigger than [Seattle’s] Woodland Park. We got to see a lot of different types of animals.”

They also spent a day at a local beach, visited malls and other attractions, and passed lots of time in their hotel.

“It’s as important to do those things off the court, as it is on the court,” D’Ambrosio said.

Mount Si returned to play Monday, Dec. 29, and rallied from a deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime. They next saw their opponents, Woodcreek from the Sacramento suburb of Roseville, Calif., retake control and go on to the 84-74 win. Riley scored 33 while Nelson added 17 in the losing effort for the Wildcats.

Mount Si fell to the Centurions of San Diego’s University City High, 69-57, on Tuesday, Dec. 30. The Wildcats looked to have control of the game after outscoring UC 21-11 in the third, but ran out of gas in the fourth, as the Centurions outscored the Wildcats 23-7 in the frame to close it out. The loss resulted in a fifth place finish for Mount Si at the tournament.

The Wildcats noticed one key element in their opponents that they will use to help themselves prepare for the rest of their schedule. That factor is speed.

“They’re a lot quicker than most teams out here in Washington, so it helped us get ready for that,” said senior Tyson Riley.

Overall, D’Ambrosio was pleased.

“Everyone contributed down there and everyone played real well. So when we’re all playing together, we’re a good team,” he said.

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