It’s amazing what can happen in the final two minutes of a basketball game. Just ask the Lake Washington Kangs.
Making a 13-1 run to close out a hard-fought game between two teams vying for second place in the KingCo standings, the Mercer Island boys basketball team beat the Lake Washington Kangs 51-40 Friday, Jan. 31 at Mercer Island High School. The win gave the Islanders sole possession of second place in the KingCo Conference. It was the team’s seventh consecutive win, improving the Islanders’ record to 11-2 in KingCo play and 15-4 overall.
The game started off as a low-scoring affair in the first, with Mercer Island leading 7-4 after one. The Islanders turned up the offense in the second quarter, scoring 16 points to take a 23-15 lead into halftime. But Lake Washington, coming off a loss to Bellevue earlier in the week that tied the Kangs with Mercer Island in the KingCo standings, would not go away and kept the game close throughout much of the second half.
The Kangs brought a strong defensive effort in the third quarter, holding the Islanders to five third-quarter points, to bring the score to 28-27 after three. Twice in the fourth quarter, Mercer Island’s lead reached four before the Kangs answered and eventually took the lead. With Lake Washington leading 37-36 in the fourth, Jake Stenberg sank two free throws to regain the lead for Mercer Island, 38-37. After another basket by the Kangs put Lake Washington ahead, Mercer Island responded with 3-point shots from Stenberg and Kaleb Warner to lead 44-39. The Islanders closed out the game with a 13-1 run to cap a 23-point fourth quarter and avoid a second loss this season to the Kangs.
Mercer Island saw three players reach double figures, with Andrew Pickles leading the Islanders in scoring with 15 points, while Jake Stenberg had 14 and Kaleb Warner had 13.
While the win gave the Islanders sole possession of second place in the KingCo Conference, the team’s standing was secured with the Kangs loss to Sammamish 65-52 Saturday, Feb. 1.
Earlier in the week, the boys basketball team beat the Liberty Patriots 63-32 at Liberty High School. The Mercer Island defense held Liberty to single digits in each of the first two quarters while extending a 10-point first-quarter lead to 20, heading into halftime up 31-11. Both teams upped the offense in the second half, but it wasn’t enough for the Patriots as Mercer Island kicked off another 30-point half with a 20-point third quarter to cruise to victory. Jake Stenberg led the Islanders in scoring with 17 points and Andrew Pickles had 14. Kaleb Warner contributed 8 points, David Emanuels had 7 and Teddy van der Velden had 6 for Mercer Island.
The Islanders will prepare for the KingCo tournament, which begins Saturday, Feb. 8.