Girls hoops moving in right direction

Islander Hailey Gullstad scores two of her six points during the fourth quarter against Juanita.  - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Islander Hailey Gullstad scores two of her six points during the fourth quarter against Juanita.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

The Mercer Island girls basketball team continued to take huge steps forward on Friday night, beginning the in-league schedule with a 66-56 victory against Juanita High School.

Mercer Island dominated the second quarter, including a 9-2 run and an 11-2 run en route to the victory.

Last year, Islander swoons during the second half cost the team countless victories.

“They are showing a little more maturity this year,” said Mercer Island coach Jamie Prescott. “We didn’t win the second half, which is a little disappointing, but you have to give Juanita credit.”

The Islander offense led the way during the first half. The Islanders held a 16-point lead at halftime, thanks to the hot hand of Jae Shin. The sophomore scored 10 points during the first quarter and six during the second. She would finish the game with 20 points.

But Shin’s lack of opportunities during the second half was picked up by Kate DaPron, who put up 15 points, 11 in the second half after five steals.

The unsung hero of the game was Hailey Gullstad, who quietly pulled down nine rebounds, had nine steals, six assists and scored six points. Gullstad has come up big in starting point guard Hannah Lilly’s absence.

“She knows that there is no other point guard, and she has worked on being a leader on the floor,” said Prescott. “She never wants to lose and is showing that.”

The sophomore’s leadership was evident during the final minutes of the game as Juanita made a late push. Juanita’s Tori Close scored 12 of her game-high 25 points during the fourth, but the Islander sophomore would answer.

Gullstad scored all six of her points during the fourth quarter and had three key steals, disrupting the Rebels’ charge.

“Jamie likes our offense to feed off of our defense, and that is what we are trying to do,” said Gullstad.

The Islanders earned an impressive 67-65 victory on Dec. 9 against 4A Bothell. Mercer Island outscored the Cougars by 10 points during the third period and withstood a 27-point fourth quarter by its opponent. The Islanders were led by Gullstad’s 17 points, while DaPron had 16.

“We get bursts of energy from good rotations and that helps a lot,” said DaPron.

Islanders Heidi Black and Kaylia Balinbin each scored 11 points during the contest.

Mercer Island travels to Interlake for an in-league game tonight for a 7:30 p.m. tip off and will travel to Tahoma High School on Tuesday.

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