Wildcat boys send message behind Tanner Riley

Mount Si’s Tanner Riley slams the ball during second-half action Friday evening, Dec. 11, at Sammamish High School. The ‘Cats fought their way to a lead in the game’s last half. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Mount Si’s Tanner Riley slams the ball during second-half action Friday evening, Dec. 11, at Sammamish High School. The ‘Cats fought their way to a lead in the game’s last half.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

The Mount Si High School boys basketball team opened the Kingco schedule Friday, Dec. 11, with a statement win, thanks to key players and a strong effort from a senior more known for his football skills.

Tanner Riley scored 23 points to lead the Wildcats to a 69-52 win over the Sammamish Totems at Sammamish High School. Riley’s strong performance was aided by an excellent night from junior Dallas Smith, who scored 16. Senior Jordin Kinnune’s efforts were key, as he hit a pair of second quarter threes and finished with ten points.

While the game had a tough start, coach Jeff D’Ambrosio said, Jordin Kinnune and Trent Riley both came off the bench to contribute defensively.

“Really, that’s where we started playing good basketball, when we got back to playing our basketball,” D’Ambrosio said.

The Wildcats started out slow, down 22-13 to the Totems near the end of the first quarter.

But those Kinnune threes helped to jump start the Mount Si attack in the second quarter, and Smith did the rest, hitting a couple big shots of his own, including a three to help the Wildcats take control going into halftime, 32-29. Smith praised Kinnune, who starred on the football team this fall as a wide receiver.

“He’s a real athlete,” Smith said. “He goes out there, does what he needs to do (and) brings energy off the bench.”

The third quarter was tight throughout, as both teams exchanged the lead several times.

A Riley basket with 1:30 left in the frame put Mount Si in the lead to stay, and the Wildcats began to gradually pull away. Mount Si took full control midway through the fourth quarter as the result of a foul call by officials against Sammamish’s George Valle, who was battling for the ball with the Wildcats’ Anthony McLaughlin. It appeared that McLaughlin had committed the foul, but officials called it against Valle, which raised the ire of Sammamish coach Wes Newton. Newton was assessed a technical foul by the referees for arguing the call, and Riley hit both free throws. Mount Si had the lead at this point 53-44.

The Wildcats kept possession of the ball, and Zander Nelson hit a basket shortly thereafter to make it 55-44. From there, Mount Si cruised. Riley dunked the ball twice down the stretch. The first dunk came with a little under two minutes to go. Then, he threw down an even more emphatic jam with a couple of seconds left to put the cherry on top. The senior was assessed a technical foul by officials for unsportsmanlike conduct for hanging on the rim, but by then the game was sealed shut. The Wildcats had taken their first league win of the season.

“Coach told me to come out with some more energy,” Riley said. “I knew we needed to do something to pick it up to pull away from them.”

Daniel Wruble led Sammamish with 15 points while Valle added 13.

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