The Mount Si Wildcats boys basketball team earned third place in the national division at the Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational, which took place from Dec. 26-29 in Rancho Mirage, California. Shaun Scott/staff photo

The Mount Si Wildcats boys basketball team earned third place in the national division at the Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational, which took place from Dec. 26-29 in Rancho Mirage, California. Shaun Scott/staff photo

Wildcats rise to the occasion in holiday tournament in California

Mount Si boys basketball team continues to improve.

An unforgettable trip to southern California is something the Mount Si Wildcats boys basketball team will carry with them for the remainder of the 2018-19 basketball season.

The Wildcats, who finished with a 3-1 overall record, earned third place in the national division at the Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational, which took place from Dec. 26-29 in Rancho Mirage, California.

“We’ve been going down to that tournament for years and every year they bring some of the top teams in the country. We knew what we were getting ourselves into. I felt like we did a great job of mentally and physically preparing to play against those teams. It showed by going down there and getting third place,” Wildcats’ head coach Jason Griffith said.

During the tournament, the Wildcats earned a signature triumph against Pebblebrook High School out of Georgia.

“Pebblebrook was ranked the 38th team in the country. Our kids were just super poised against Pebblebrook. It is the first time I’ve ever played five guys the entire game. I didn’t sub once. I never had done that before,” Griffith explained. “This tournament was big for us to see where we stacked up against teams that present a little bit of a different challenges for us. I felt like we rebounded pretty well despite other teams having a size and athletic advantage over us.”

Jabe Mullins, Tyler Patterson and Jonny Barrett all earned all-tournament honors for their play in four contests against top-caliber competition. Patterson is confident his team will benefit from their success in late December for the duration of the season.

“We played really well. It gives us something to hang our hat on. We are back here now and know what we need to work on,” Patterson said.

Mullins was thrilled to see his squad test its skills against a wide assortment of opponents from all over the nation.

“The level of competition was way better in Palm Springs (site of the tournament). We came back here and we know what we can do. We want to hopefully win KingCo and get to state (tournament),” Mullins said prior to the start of practice on Jan. 3.

The Wildcats currently have an overall 10-2 record, including a perfect 5-0 record in 4A KingCo action.

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