Magic act: boys disappear against Bellevue

Wolverine Luke Sikma dominates second half to give Islanders second loss

By Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter

The Mercer Island boys basketball team looked more like a prop in a David Copperfield magic show than one of the best teams in the state Wednesday, as it lost at Bellevue High School 54-39.

“A number of our guys disappeared,” said Mercer Island head coach Ed Pepple, “like almost everyone who played.”

One player who showed up was the Wolverines 6-foot-7 center, Luke Sikma, who dominated the game with 11 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and seven assists.

“We don’t have any guys his size,” said Pepple. “No one played like a (Division I) player.”

Size was not an issue Jan. 9 when Mercer Island beat its biggest rival by 11 points at home.

“We didn’t have home court and the shots just weren’t falling,” said Islander Evan Zahniser. “We just made too many mistakes.”

The off night for the Islanders translated into shooting 15-for-50 from the floor during the game and just nine team assists.

Mercer Island began the game with fire and intensity, despite two blocked shots by Sikma in the first five minutes. The Islanders took their final lead of the game, 12-10, on the first shot of the second quarter, a long three-pointer by Trevor Fulp.

The Mercer Island boys trailed Bellevue by just two points at halftime, but the Wolverines would pull away during the second half thanks to Sikma’s performance. The senior finished the first half with nine rebounds but the second half would be defined by Sikma’s unselfishness.

With a 24-18 lead during the third period, Sikma drove to the basket with two Islander players trying to prevent him from scoring. Instead of taking the lay-up, the Bellevue center flung the ball out to a teammate for an uncontested three-point shot. Time and time again Sikma would get the ball down low and kick it out for a teammate.

“He is a smart player,” said Zahniser. “He makes his teammates better.”

Many of the assist came as a result of sophomore Alex Schrempf scoring two of his game high 16 points, most of which came during the second half.

Zahniser led the Islanders with 10 points but the lack of scoring by the other starters was hard for the Islander faithful to stomach.

“This just isn’t characteristic of how we have been playing,” said Pepple.

The teams three leading scorers, Matt Schut, Trevor Fulp and Leroy Lutu struggled during the entire game to even get off shots. Schut finished with just four points during the contest, while Lutu and Fulp combined for 13 points.

It was a different Islander team Jan. 30, as Mercer Island crushed Interlake 67-38. Lutu, Fulp and Schut combined for 45 points to lead the offense and Mercer Island held the home team to just two first-quarter points. Friday Mercer Island took its frustrations out on Spartans with a **-** win at Skyline High School.

“We are still in the hunt but we need Issaquah to lose one,” said Pepple. “We have to fix what went wrong (against Bellevue) and not think about the things we can’t control.”

The loss to Bellevue leaves Mercer Island a game and a half behind league leading and undefeated Issaquah. Mercer Island will need some help to win the league title as they have just one game left with the Eagles February 12 at Issaquah High School.

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