SNOQUALMIE – The Mount Si Wildcat boys’ basketball team overcame an awful lot of adversity to pull out its most important win of the season last Tuesday at home over the Bellevue Wolverines.
The Wildcats overcame inconsistent play, questionable officiating and a couple of delays in the contest to post a 61-47 win that put Mount Si in a tie with both Bellevue and Newport for fifth place in Kingco 3A.
Erik Tierney scored 12 points to lead the Wildcats to victory, while Kevin Englund scored 11 and both Erik Alexander and Mac Farnsworth scored 10 to pace Mount Si.
Kevin Stangvik and John McGough each scored 12 points to aid Bellevue in a losing cause, while Stephen Schilling scored 11, nine of which came in the third quarter, to pace the Wolverines.
Inconsistent play was a problem for Mount Si in the game. The Wildcats built a 24-15 halftime advantage on strong defense, but then the defense struggled. Wildcat coach Garrick Phillips is looking for improvement.
“We need to be more disciplined for the whole game. We had some success early in the game and what that did is that allowed guys to say oh, I can take the ball whenever I want instead of staying with the defensive fundamentals and staying disciplined,” he said.
Farnsworth is happy with his, and his team’s effort.
“I really feel like that I just needed to come out and do whatever the team needs me to do, and it’s so nice to have other people willing to step up and do the things that need to get done,” Farnsworth said.
The game was marred by questionable officiating, mostly against Mount Si. Referees called 18 fouls on the Wildcats as opposed to just 12 for Bellevue, but it was the non-calls that raised Phillips’ ire enough that he was assessed a technical foul for arguing one of those non-calls with 7:33 left in the game. Toward the end of the contest a delay ensued as two Mount Si fans were ejected from the gym by the officials for unsportsmanlike behavior in the stands. The referees were not kind to the Wolverines, either; Bellevue was assessed a delay-of-game warning with 29 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats played well Friday, but with their postseason dreams on the line as well, the Newport Knights played better. Both teams came into the contest knowing a win would put that team into the postseason, and it was the Knights who led pretty much from start to finish despite a spirited Mount Si effort.
Newport won 60-54 to force the Wildcats into a tiebreaker, loser-out game Monday at Liberty against the Wolverines, which, since the two teams played each other last Tuesday, will be no easy task.
Brandon Mezistrano scored 17 and Neal Chalmers scored 16 as the Knights used their Tuesday upset of Sammamish as a catalyst for success.
“We’ve really been playing our best basketball the last part of the season. We’ve beaten Issaquah, we’ve beaten Sammamish, we gave Interlake a run for their money and to come over here and beat a good Mount Si team at Mount Si is not an easy task,” said first-year Newport coach Dave Olzendam. “I just thought the kids are really starting to believe in the team situation and we’re starting to play with more poise.”
Kevin Englund scored 17 to lead the Wildcats in defeat while Erik Tierney, one of four Mount Si seniors honored on “Senior Night” prior to the contest, finished a stellar home career as a Wildcat with 13 points. Tierney will remember his high-school years despite the difficulties of this one game.
“Four years of Mount Si High School basketball has meant so much to me. It’s taught me character, learning to play through adversity, just play with some pride, but [it has been a] rough year,” he said.
Tierney said he is looking at becoming a teacher and if possible, he would like to come back to the Valley and teach at Mount Si. As for his college basketball possibilities, they are not clear but he indicated Central Washington apparently has shown some interest.
Farnsworth, Jon Clegg and Zach Bowen were also honored prior to the game as part of the Senior Night festivities.
On Monday night the Wildcats’ season came to a very disappointing end in the Kingco tiebreaker game against the Wolverines. Tied 23-23 at halftime, Bellevue rolled out on a 13-1 run to start the second half, and despite a furious Wildcat comeback, the Wolverines hit their free throws down the stretch, and posted a 61-53 win which sent Bellevue to the Kingco Tournament as a No. 6 seed, and Mount Si home for the season.
Phillips was, as one might expect after such a difficult loss, subdued. “We struggled putting the ball in the basket. It’s been a recurring theme this year. We got a lot of good shots, a lot of good opportunities and either threw the ball away, or couldn’t put it in the hoop.
Mount Si’s Kyle Meuli and Bellevue’s Stangvik each scored 14 points to lead their respective teams.
“I think the effort was there out of this group the entire year. We’ve always had the effort, but we just didn’t have any results to go with it,” added Phillips.
The Wildcats finished 8-13 on the season, and return several top players next season as seniors; leading that group will be Kyle Clearman, joined by Meuli, Englund, and Ryan Reilly. Those four players will have to step up as a unit if the team stands to succeed next season.