Islander girls upset Glacier Peak in OT, advance to the Dome | Prep girls basketball

The Mercer Island girls basketball team celebrate after winning in overtime against regional-round opponent Glacier Peak Saturday, March 1 at Everett Community College.  - Joseph Livarchik/Mercer Island Reporter
The Mercer Island girls basketball team celebrate after winning in overtime against regional-round opponent Glacier Peak Saturday, March 1 at Everett Community College.
— image credit: Joseph Livarchik/Mercer Island Reporter

For the second year in a row, the Mercer Island girls are Dome-bound.

Despite trailing throughout most of Saturday's regional-round game against the No. 1 team out of District 1, the Mercer Island girls basketball team hung around to prevail in overtime, beating the Glacier Peak Grizzlies 59-55 at Everett Community College. With the win, the Islanders advanced as a No. 1 seed to the 3A state basketball championships at the Tacoma Dome next weekend.

After the game, assistant coach Austin Yuen, filling in his third game for expecting wife and head coach Kaela Yuen, said the Islanders knew they did one thing really well, and that was defense.

"We've really done one thing the whole time and that's just play our game," said Yuen. "We know we're a great defensive team, if we keep them under 50 points, we have a chance to win."

Glacier Peak struck first to open the game, taking the lead and holding on to it throughout the first half. Mercer Island managed to keep things close, getting its scoring from four different players to trail 12-8 after one. The Islanders struggled to score in the second quarter as Glacier Peak's lead grew to ten, until a 3-pointer by Julia Blumenstein sparked an 8-0 run to close the first half, bringing the score to 20-18 at halftime.

Mercer Island continued to hang around in the second half and was able to tie the game twice in the third quarter, but didn't get its first lead until Jess Blakeslee sank two free throws with 2:30 to go in the fourth quarter, giving the Islanders a 45-44 advantage. After exchanging leads, a Glacier Peak free throw gave the Grizzlies a 49-47 lead with 37 seconds to go in regulation. But a basket by Blumenstein with 11 seconds remaining sent the game into overtime.

Blumenstein picked up where she left off in the overtime period, scoring Mercer Island's first five points while the Mercer Island defense only allowed one field goal throughout the period. That field goal came with 54 seconds left, when Glacier Peak's Natalie Rasmussen drilled a 3-pointer while drawing a foul for a potential 4-point play. But unable to convert from the line, it was the last the Grizzlies would score as the Islanders held on for the win. Blakeslee led the Islanders in scoring with 21 points while also grabbing 12 rebounds. Blumenstein had 12 points, Taylor Krause contributed 9 points and Rachael Tessem had 8 points for Mercer Island.

Blumenstein said after the game that staying confident throughout paid off for the Islanders. "It's always tough to come from behind, but our team, every huddle, every timeout, in the locker room, we just looked each other in the eyes and said 'hey guys, we're gonna win this game,'" she said. "We got our runs in the right time and it paid off."

While beating Glacier Peak for a trip to the Tacoma Dome may have come as a surprise to some, Yuen said it wasn't a surprise to his team.

"The girls made it our goal after we hit state last year. They said 'hey, people didn't think we should be in state. We want to prove to them that we belong in state,'" he said. "Last year, we went 0-2 in state, and so we have something to prove. So just getting to state, knocking off a great team, isn't enough. It's going to state and hitting our goals."

The girls 3A state basketball championships will take place March 6-8 at the Tacoma Dome.

Julia Blumenstein goes up for a shot with 11 seconds to go in Saturday's regional-round game against Glacier Peak at Everett Community College. The shot banked in to send the game into overtime. (Photo by Joseph Livarchik)

Mercer Island’s Taylor Krause works her way around Glacier Peak’s Taylor Baird during their regional-round matchup Saturday, March 1 at Everett Community College. (Photo by Joseph Livarchik)

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