Postseason prep for Mount Si boys

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The Mount Si boys basketball team continues to maintain its standing near the top of Kingco 3A, as they pulled off two wins last week.

The Wildcats traveled to Sammamish to face the Totems last Tuesday, Jan. 27. The Wildcats went into the game looking to make quick work of Sammamish, and did just that, 69-41. Mount Si built a 36-20 lead by the half, and never looked back.

Tanner Riley led the way with 22 points and seven boards, and Zander Nelson added 14 to pace the Wildcats. Mount Si as a team shot a torrid 80 percent from the floor, with several players hitting all of their attempts. Dallas Smith added 11 points to aid the scarlet and gray’s efforts.

Mount Si made their way up to Juanita last Saturday, Jan. 31, to take on the Rebels. That game was being made up after being postponed earlier this month due to the flooding which affected the Valley.

The Wildcats held their own as the game got a bit physical in the second half, and got quality efforts from Tanner Riley and Smith in a 61-49 win over Juanita.

“It got pretty physical out there,” said Mount Si coach Jeff D’Ambrosio. “We missed a lot of free throws in the third quarter and [it got] a little bit close, but we played pretty well right back. It was a good win.”

Size and interior scoring were key.

“We were a lot bigger than them, and it was easy to score on the inside,” said Wildcat senior Tyson Riley.

Tanner Riley scored 17 and Smith added 13 to lead Mount Si, which opened the game with the lead, and built that lead up to 15-5 with 2:45 left in the first frame. The Rebels tried to rally, but the Wildcats quickly stopped that and rebuilt their advantage, this time to as many as 15 in the second quarter. Smith and Tanner Riley helped to maintain things on offense, while Taylor Campbell did it on defense. With 1:02 left in the frame, Campbell swatted a Juanita shot attempt with such authority that the ball flew into the stands, got the good-sized Mount Si student section buzzing, and made it very clear which team was in command.

Defensive efforts proved critical, and will likely become a bigger factor down the stretch.

“We’ve been working on defense a lot in practice, and we’re getting a lot better at it,” Tyson Riley said.

The Wildcats took a 33-23 lead into the halftime break. Juanita wasn’t fazed, though, as they continued to apply pressure in the third quarter. Dahrius Mills, Cole Graves and Josiah Jackson scored points to keep things interesting. Mills finished with 11, while Graves and Jackson each finished with eight to pace the Rebels.

Smith, though, didn’t let the Rebels stop him, as he scored six straight points to close out the third and help the Wildcats pull back out to a 46-35 lead to end the stanza.

Key free throws down the stretch by Lucas Zupan allowed the Wildcats to close the door, and a Tanner Riley bucket locked it.

There are still areas that the team will need to improve.

“We’ve got to do a better job shooting free throws and rebounding,” D’Ambrosio said.

Staying focused as a team and playing hard throughout the entire game are also important, Nelson added.

The game provided another opportunity for reserves to get quality minutes. Tucker Edwards-King and Spencer MacEwan were the primary beneficiaries. Both played well, with Edwards-King hitting a basket to open the fourth quarter.

“Everyone who played, played great,” D’Ambrosio said.

The Wildcats travel to Interlake Friday, Feb. 6, for a date with a Saints team that Mount Si easily beat back in December. Game time is 8:05 p.m.

Next week is a big week, with games against league powers Bellevue and Mercer Island.

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