Sports

Sophomores define new era for girls | Shin, Gullstad combine for 51 points against Mount Si

Islander guard Heidi Black, in white, fights for a rebound during a game against Mount Si at Mercer Island on Wednesday. - Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter
Islander guard Heidi Black, in white, fights for a rebound during a game against Mount Si at Mercer Island on Wednesday.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

The Mercer Island girls basketball team has had its share of standout players during the past decade. Islanders Beth Richards and Georgia Gier not only led their teams but brought a modicum of success to a program that has traditionally struggled.

This season, the Islanders have more than one player who can carry the team. Two of those players got hot at the same time on Wednesday, when Mercer Island beat what has become a new rival in Mount Si, 70-60.

The most astonishing thing about Jae Shin and Hailey Gullstad’s performances might not be the numbers they put up but the fact that they are both sophomores.

“We have at least two other girls who could do this same thing,” said Mercer Island coach Jamie Prescott. “Our team is getting really hard to defend against.”

Shin and Gullstad became the first tandem for Mercer Island to score over 20 points each in a single game in at least the past decade.

“When we are on, it is just a matter of getting [the ball] to the right person,” said Gullstad. “We have so many shooters.”

Shin led all scorers with 26 points, 12 of which came during the second quarter, and made six of 10 three-pointers.

“Hailey kept finding me in the corner, and my game is threes,” said Shin.

“We didn’t shoot well during the first half, but it came back to us.”

While Shin carried the team during the second quarter, Gullstad dominated the court during the fourth quarter, fending off a comeback attempt by the Wildcats.

Gullstad finished the game with 25 points, seven assists, five steals, four rebounds and was 3-of-4 from beyond the arch. But her numbers during the fourth were the difference in the game as she scored nine points, had four steals, four assists and three rebounds.

As a team, Mercer Island made 11 three-pointers, a season high, and shot 47 — 1 percent from the field overall.

But for all the success that the team had, the first quarter was dismal. Prescott and Richards, the team’s assistant coach, both watched Richards’ younger sister, Caitie Richards, pick Mercer Island apart during the first quarter by sinking two threes to put the Wildcats up 10-3. The run was ominous, as Richards has torched Mercer Island in the past. But stringent defense kept Richards to just seven points during the rest of the game.

“Our defense worked pretty well,” said Shin. “We were able to get the boards, and they couldn’t control the game.”

Mercer Island took its first lead of the game late during the first half, as Shin scored seven consecutive points and senior Chloe Snethen made two free throws for a 27-26 advantage.

But fouls were Mercer Island’s biggest nemesis during the game, as Islander center Kate DaPron earned four fouls before the half. The junior sat on the bench during third, came back during the fourth and earned her fifth foul with 4:49 left in the game. Despite the lack of an inside presence, Mercer Island out-rebounded Mount Si, 36-27. Mercer Island was over the limit in fouls to start the fourth quarter, but Mount Si could not capitalize despite shooting 9-of-13 from the free-throw line during the fourth. The Wildcats would only get as close as six points during the fourth.

The win for Mercer Island gives it sole possession of second place in the league but with the same record, 5-1, as top-seeded Bellevue.

The Islanders will travel to Juanita on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. tip off. They will host Interlake on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and the only team that it has lost to, Bellevue, on Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 7:30 p.m.

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