Lutu leads boys back - Tickets available for game at UW

By Matt Phelps

If there was any question about a hangover from the Islanders' season-opening loss to Lake Washington, sophomore Leroy Lutu put it to rest, as the Islanders continued to prepare for their big intrastate exhibition with Marin Catholic High School of California.

Lutu showed why he is one of the best athletes at Mercer Island High School, leading the Islanders to back-to-back blowout victories last week in just his second and third career starts.

``It was kind of radical, for some people, for us to start him,'' said Mercer Island head coach Ed Pepple. ``We saw enough at practice that we knew we should start him. He plays with confidence and he is really aggressive.''

Mercer Island traveled to Newport Tuesday, Dec. 6 and came away with a 59-38 victory, regaining a bit of that Islander swagger. Lutu led all scorers with 17 points and 10 different players scored during the game for Mercer Island.

``We have good balance in scoring,'' said Pepple. ``All of our players are capable of contributing.''

The Islanders played host to Liberty Thursday and Mercer Island's defense was suffocating. Liberty struggled to score during the first half as the Patriots only managed 10 points during the first two quarters. The game opened up during the second half, as Mercer Island scored 43 points compared to 28 during the first half.

``I thought everyone played well,'' said Pepple. ``They attacked the basket and got to the free-throw line.''

The Islanders improved on their free-throw shooting by hitting 75 percent against Liberty. During the season opener the team shot less than 50 percent.

Once again Lutu had the hot hand and lead the scoring for both teams with 20 points. Kael Kristof and David Kelley also scored in double figures for Mercer Island, combining for 24 points.

Although Kristof's scoring numbers are down a bit from last season, Pepple said that it is not about numbers for his senior.

``He is the glue that holds this team together,'' said Pepple. ``He had a very, very solid game.''

The Islanders moved the ball well against the over matched Patriots, as once again, 10 players scored for the home team.

The Islanders hosted the defending 3A KingCo champions, Issaquah, Monday (after Reporter deadline) and will travel to Sammamish High School for one of the biggest match ups of the year at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The game will also be a warm up for the No. 4 ranked team in California, Marin Catholic, on Thursday, Dec. 23.

The Mercer Island boys basketball team is selling tickets to its game, which will be held at the Bank of America Arena at the University of Washington. Tip off is at 1 p.m.

All players and parents in the high school basketball program are selling tickets for the game.

Tickets will also be available at the door on game day.

For more information on how to get tickets call Christine Poli at 230-4121.

``We would like to see a nice crowd,'' said Pepple. ``We will also have an alumni band.''

The game is part of a big day of hoops at the arena that will culminate with the University of Washington taking on Lehigh University. Pepple's grandson, Matt Logie, is an assistant coach for Lehigh, and Brandon Burmeister, who is also a former Islander, plays for the Huskies.

The winter break will be a big week for the Islanders as they follow up the game against Marin Catholic by flying to Hawaii for a tournament Dec. 26-29.

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