Clinching a playoff berth

Girls basketball beats Liberty, within range of .500

By Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter

The Mercer Island girls basketball team has struggled to make the 3A KingCo playoffs during the past decade. This year things are different.

The Islanders defeated Liberty Friday night 53-46, despite allowing the Patriots to take 80 shots from the floor. But more importantly, the victory clinched Mercer Island a post season game with two weeks left in the regular season.

“It is kind of a relief, but we don’t want to get lax during the rest of the season,” said Mercer Island senior Georgia Gier.

Last season Mercer Island lost both meetings with the Patriots, including a 64-27 drubbing at Liberty High School. But the win has even more significance: It gives the team a legitimate shot at finishing at or over .500 for the first time since 2002.

“We keep adding to the list of teams that were previously unreachable,” said Prescott. “It feels good.”

The first quarter felt really good for the Islanders as they jumped out to a 14-2 lead. Liberty gave the Islanders some help by shooting 2-for-11 from the floor during the first quarter. The Patriots never got on track during the game, shooting just 22.5 percent from the floor. Mercer Island allowed 24 second-chance points during the game.

The Patriots got back into the game during the third quarter by pulling back within one point at 30-29 by pressuring the ball with the full-court press to start the second half. But the Islanders would not let Liberty tie the game. A big two-point shot by Kate DuPron was followed by a tough Gier basket with three Patriot defenders draped over the senior as Mercer Island took a 34-29 lead into the final eight minutes of the game.

The Islanders continued to attack the basket as Janelle Chow picked a Patriot player’s pocket for a steal, then ran the length of the court for the easy lay-up. Three minutes later Amanda Nield gave Mercer Island its biggest lead of the game, 46-32, on a long three-pointer.

The Patriots attempted a comeback, getting within five points thanks to poor Mercer Island free-throw shooting. Gier and her team had opposite games. While Gier went just 1-for-9 from the free-throw line, Lilly and Chow picked up the slack with 27 combined points and the team hit seven three-pointers. But Gier was the rock on defense with seven blocked shots and eight defensive rebounds.

“I like kickin’ it out,” said Gier, who was double- and triple-teamed the entire game. “I’ll take an assist any day.”

Mercer Island will travel to Interlake tonight and then face Skyline at home Friday for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff. The big game will come Tuesday as Mercer Island will host Newport. The Islanders are currently 5-6, one game behind Bellevue and two games behind of the Knights. Mercer Island still has an outside chance at entering the KingCo playoffs as high as the No. 4 seed.

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