Big third quarter can’t save girls b-ball

The Mercer Island girls basketball team had a chance Friday to make a statement and take control of its own destiny. But instead, a disastrous first half cost the team against Bellevue in a 66-48 loss.

The Wolverines began the game with a 6-0 lead, holding Mercer Island without a field goal through the first 3:37 of the contest. The Islanders’ inability to get good shots off in the key pushed their shots to the perimeter, where very few fell through the net. One of those three-pointers, by Heidi Black, broke another Bellevue run at 16-9.

A 19-10 rebound advantage by Bellevue halfway through the second quarter helped to extend their lead to 27-12.

“This game was all about rebounding and they won the battle,” said Mercer Island senior Janelle Chow, who finished with nine rebounds and seven points.

A sequence of plays during waning minutes of the second quarter seemed to sum up Mercer Island’s struggles. A kick-out pass from Islander guard Hailey Gullstad to teammate Jae Shin for a long three resulted in a big basket and foul. But Shin missed the freethrow and then a defensive foul on a Bellevue three made for a net loss during the two plays.

But the Islanders would make a run during the third quarter. Chow’s four rebounds, three steals and five points, along with Shin’s 11 points during the quarter, fueled a stunning turnaround. Two freethrows by Gullstad with 1:32 remaining in the period pulled Mercer Island to within two possessions of Bellevue at 36-32.

But the long-range ability of Catelyn Webber continued to sink Mercer Island’s idea of a full comeback. Webber finished with 23 points, including five three-pointers, four of them coming during the second half.

“We were working on a new defense tonight and I think we were getting confused at times,” said Chow.

The Islanders’ hot hand that dominated the third quarter reverted to its first-half temperature as Bellevue outscored Mercer Island by 11 during the fourth.

The loss dropped Mercer Island out of the top 10 in state 3A girls rankings and catapulted Bellevue into the top five in three different polls. But more importantly, the loss dropped the Islanders from second in the league into a four-way tie for third place.

The Islanders will attempt to get back on track tonight as they host Sammamish at 7:30 p.m. Mercer Island will host Liberty with a 6:30 p.m. tip-off on Friday.

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