The end of June was a joyous time for the Mount Si Wildcats boys basketball program.
The Wildcats made the 254-mile trek to Spokane for the ultra competitive Gonzaga University basketball team camp from June 26-29. Mount Si, which resided in Gonzaga dormitories during the four-day camp, put together an overall record of 4-3 against teams from Washington, Idaho and Montana.
Mount Si head coach Jason Griffith, who will be in his third season of leading the Wildcats program during the 2018-19 season, was proud of his team’s performances against top-caliber competition.
“The camp is definitely a physical and mental challenge. You are playing seven games in about 48 hours. We played very well against top-notch competition. Two of our losses were to Gonzaga Prep and Mount Spokane, who are two of the best teams in eastern Washington,” Griffith said. “We were actually up by eight (points) against Gonzaga with six minutes left but they’ve got a kid (Anton Watson) committed to Gonzaga and we just couldn’t slow him down. We ended up losing by four points. We showed that we can compete with essentially the best team in the state. Our kids were encouraged, so that is good.”
The Wildcats, who finished the 2017-18 season with an overall record of 13-11, will return the majority of their varsity team to the hardwood this coming season.
“Last year we got to the KingCo championship game (49-43 loss to Bothell on Feb. 15). I think most of us felt like we let that game slip away. In the end, it will be a good learning experience for our guys. Our top two players were sophomores last year,” Griffith said.
Mount Si junior guards Jabe Mullins and Tyler Patterson are already garnering significant attention from collegiate basketball programs. Griffith said Mullins has already been offered scholarships from Eastern Washington University and the University of Montana. Patterson has received an offer from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Griffith said the battles his team experienced last season will pay off in the 2018-19 campaign. The Wildcats will return nine players from the 2017-18 varsity roster.
“Now most of the guys on our team have two years of varsity experience under their belts. These are kids with high upsides that continue to physically develop. More than anything, they are understanding now what it takes to win. That is the most valuable part of it all,” Griffith explained. “Obviously they are talented kids but I think you have to go through the wringer (battles) before you truly know what it takes as a team. We are getting there.”