Girls b-ball takes final KingCo spot

By Matt Phelps

The Mercer Island girls basketball team earned the final 3A KingCo playoff spot Wednesday with a victory over Interlake 57-51.

The win did not come easily or quickly. The Saints outplayed the Islanders during the first half and officials slowed the pace of the game, calling 56 fouls between the two teams.

``We work and work on moving our feet, but this game was so ugly,'' said Mercer Island girls basketball head coach Jamie Prescott. ``I remember screaming because it didn't even seem like we weren't playing basketball at times.''

Despite the persistent fouling problems the team has dealt with this season, along with finishing the league schedule with just four victories, Mercer Island has earned at least two more games in the post-season.

``It can only be a good thing,'' said Prescott.

But the team's post season could be short if it plays like it did during the first half against the Saints. The Islanders had half as many turnovers as Interlake but trailed 25-22 at the half, thanks to a desperation three-pointer by Interlake at the buzzer.

``We really played a sloppy first half,'' said Islander senior Jesse Paull. ``We got killed on the offensive boards. We really needed to attack more.''

Mercer Island hit just 3 of 13 from the floor during the first quarter for just six points.

Islander junior Ellie Chapman bailed her team out during the second. Mercer Island guard Mika Rothman's three-pointer to start the period sparked Mercer Island. Chapman hit consecutive baskets to give her team its first lead of the game, and had seven of the teams 16 second-quarter points.

Things changed during the third period as Islanders Georgia Gier, Meg Farra and Paull took over. The three players combined for 13 rebounds, five steals and 15 points.

In contrast, the Saints managed just four points for the quarter as Mercer Island pulled away with a 41-29 lead.

The fourth quarter, grinding to a turtle's pace, was dominated by free-throw shooting.

``We definitely need to talk more on defense,'' said Chapman. ``We also need trust in our teammates more.''

Chapman was the biggest recipient of the charity stripe, hitting 8 of 11 and finishing the game with 17 points.

Paull finished the game with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

``(Paull) demands excellence and expects more out of her teammates,'' said Prescott.

Gier added 10 rebounds and nine points.

Prescott noted that Chapman had missed time due to being sick this week and Gier had missed the entire week of practice with an ankle injury.

The Islanders finished the regular season at home with a 71-30 loss to Bellevue Friday.

For Paull and Annie Taylor, the only two seniors on the team, it was their final home game.

``I had mixed emotions,'' said Taylor. ``We didn't play as well as we could have.''

The team opened the playoffs at BCC Tuesday against Bellevue (after Reporter deadline).

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