Mount Si’s defense had its opposition so frazzled at one point that a player misfired a pass into the welcoming arms of the packed and pleased Wildcat student section.
That occurred in the early stages of Saturday night’s 4A state regional boys basketball game that saw Mount Si continuously build its lead against the visiting West Valley Rams of Yakima at Issaquah High. The Wildcats defeated West Valley, 74-44, and the locals will next play the Battle Ground/Federal Way winner at 7:15 p.m. Thursday at the Hardwood Classic at the Tacoma Dome.
“For the win, we had to come out and show them right away what we’re all about on defense,” said Mount Si senior guard Tyler Patterson, who earned a sportsmanship medallion. “We just gotta come in and make sure it’s no doubt in your mind right away that we can play and we’re gonna fight for 32 minutes.”
Senior guard Jabe Mullins led the Wildcats (23-4) with 27 points, including copious three-pointers and an emphatic dunk to put the Wildcats ahead 33-13 in the second quarter. Senior forward Hayden Curtiss thrilled the crowd with a rim-rattler of his own to further Mount Si’s lead to 58-29 in the fourth quarter.
Speaking of Curtiss, he’s Mount Si’s tallest guy at 6-foot-9 and he matched up well with West Valley’s Conner Turner, the loftiest player on the court at 7-foot-1. During the second quarter, Curtiss got the fans going after batting away a Turner shot.
Not long after that rejection, Mount Si reeled off a 12-0 run with baskets by Mullins (jump shot, dunk and two free throws), Tyler Patterson (jump shot) and sophomore guard/forward Quin Patterson (two jumpers) to hold a 35-13 lead at halftime.
Sophomore point guard Bennett O’Connor thrives on being in the spotlight and leading the squad up court into offensive mode.
“It’s awesome. Playing with Jabe, Tyler, Hayden, Quin — they’re really good, it’s just great to play with them, distribute to them, make plays for everyone,” he said. “We’ve just been going hard every practice. Just doing everything we can to get to where we were last year.”
That destination is the state championship game in the Dome, where they lost in the title contest last season.
After receiving an endless amount of pats on the back and well-wishes from the crowd, Mullins moved off to the side and noted that Mount Si has one goal left to achieve this season: a state crown.
“After that Woodinville loss, that next practice we kind of huddled up, ‘Hey, teams are gunning for us, this is what it’s gonna take, we’re just gonna go have to play our best ball and go win the state championship,’” said Mullins, referring to the Falcons’ 64-61 win at districts. “Last year after we lost, all of us, we hated that feeling, we don’t wanna have to feel that again.”
Mount Si responded to the Woodinville defeat big time by winning four consecutive games by an average of 25 points. Practices have been stellar and the Wildcats are rolling, Mullins said.
As the Wildcats walked onto the court on Saturday, they were thrilled to see a massive throng of fans ready to help them strive for a victory against the Rams (19-3).
“The fans are great, they’re super loud, they’re helping us out, ‘cause they’re a big part of the game,” said Mullins, who added that it’s weird to see the fans hold up a cardboard cutout of his face when he scores points.
“It’s really funny, it’s good,” he added with a smile.