Rainier Beach Escapes the Islanders, Advances to Final Eight
By Colin Caruso
When a team plays with passion and intensity on the basketball floor, it captivates your attention and compels you to watch more. When a team has the capability of playing for a national title if they win our state tournament, it compels you to watch them. This was the case in the capstone contest on Friday night at Bellevue College. The first mentioned passionate team, the Mercer Island Islanders (18-7 on the season) battled the undefeated, 25-0 Rainier Beach Vikings.
Throughout this season the Vikings have dominated their opponents, scoring over 100 points nine times on the season. But recently teams have keyed in on their scoring, sat back in zones, played slow basketball, and prayed that the lights out shooting Vikings were somehow cold. Mercer Island took this route, matched the intensity of the Vikings, and made this one a battle until the finish.
A 19-15 first quarter in favor of Rainier Beach can be classified as a Mercer Island win. The Islanders took good shots, played good defense, and senior guard Kaleb Warner scored seven on 3-3 from the field. The second quarter was not as pretty for the underdog Islanders, as a four point effort sent them into the locker room down 13. But Mercer Island did not go away.
A 20-15 third quarter put them in striking distance of the lesser aggressive Vikings. Baskets from Andrew Pickles and Jake Stenberg kept the dream alive for the Islanders, who never stopped fighting for the entire 32 minutes.
The fourth quarter again belonged to the Islanders, who trimmed the mighty Viking lead to just two points with two minutes to play on back to back three pointers by Warner. But the next two possessions resulted in turnovers, and the Vikings scored three points in their next two possessions, pushing this one ever so slightly out of reach.
A phenomenal effort by one of the state’s finest in Mercer Island, but conquering the mighty is such a difficult task. Beach moves on to Tacoma, with action beginning on Thursday, March 6th.
Kaleb Warner – 18 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
Andrew Pickles – 12 points, 7 rebounds
Djuan Piper – 17 points, 5 rebounds
David Crisp – 18 points
Dejounte Murray – 17 points