Islander teams play at Feeder Bowl basketball tournament

On the weekend of March 14 and 15, the Stanwood boys basketball program played host to the inaugural Eastside Travel League (ETL) against WESCO Feeder Bowl basketball tournament. Mercer Island was the only program from either league to have three teams invited, the fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders.

The tournament matched the top four basketball teams from each league in four different grade divisions, 32 teams in all. Each team played one game against each of the four teams in the same grade from the opposing league in a “Ryder Cup” format.

The objective of this unique tournament was to be the league to win the most games over the course of the weekend and earn the right to take possession of the Feeder Bowl trophy for a year.

The ETL is the league in which the Mercer Island fifth- through eighth-grade boys select program participates and is comprised of teams from approximately 18 schools on the Eastside. The WESCO Youth Basketball League is comprised of teams from 16 schools to the north, ranging from Mountlake Terrace to Mount Vernon. Teams invited to the inaugural Feeder Bowl tournament were determined by both regular season and playoff performance.

Games were played at Stanwood High School and Haller Middle School. Each team played two games on Saturday and two on Sunday.

The tournament host kept a running tally of the wins by ETL teams, compared to the wins by WESCO teams. With 32 teams participating, there were a total of 64 games played over the course of the two days. The goal was to be the league that won at least 33 games.

After the first day, the ETL held a narrow 17-15 edge in victories. On day two, after WESCO came within one win at 24-23 midway through the day, the ETL made a late surge to win 13 of the remaining 17 games to claim the Feeder Bowl. The final tally was 37 wins for ETL to 27 wins for WESCO.

The seventh-grade Islanders played four very competitive games and finished the tournament with a record of 2-2. After losing a heartbreaker, 34-32, to Arlington in the opener, the seventh-graders bounced back with an overtime victory over Mountlake Terrace, 32-31.

On Sunday morning, the seventh-grade Islanders started slow and fell behind Stanwood, 31-12, early in the second half. But the Islanders rallied and closed the game with a 27-10 run to narrow the gap to two points to close the game. The final score was Stanwood, 41, and Mercer Island, 39.

The Islanders faced the seventh-grade WESCO champions from Shorecrest in their fourth and final game of the weekend. The Islanders seized an early lead and held it for most of the game until Shorecrest rallied to tie the game at 40-40 with less than 10 seconds remaining.

On the Islanders final possession, Keegan Ogard was fouled just before time expired and calmly sank a free throw to secure the victory at 41-40.

The sixth-grade Islanders won three of four games over the course of the weekend. Similar to the seventh-graders, whose games were all decided by two points or less, the sixth-grade team engaged in a pair of nail-biters on Saturday.

The sixth-grade team edged Kings, 32-30, in their opener and then slipped past Cascade, 28-27.

On Sunday morning, the sixth-grade Islanders team faced the No. 1 seeded WESCO champions from Marysville and suffered its only defeat of the weekend, 45-36. In their fourth and final game, the Islanders bounced back to play their best game of the weekend and crushed a good Stanwood team, 53-36.

The fifth-grade Islanders, fresh off the ETL championship, entered the Feeder Cup as the No. 1 ETL seed for their grade division. The fifth-graders started strong with a 46-23 victory over Lake Stevens and a 40-25 victory over Marysville.

On Sunday, the Islanders faced the top two seeds from the WESCO league and the games were much tighter.

The Islanders’ relentless man-to-man defense was the key in the first game, as the team rallied from a16-13 halftime deficit to defeat Glacier Peak, 30-22, holding the Grizzlies to just six points in the second half.

The final game of the tournament for the fifth-grade Islanders was against the No. 1 seeded WESCO team from Shorecrest. Facing a 1-3-1 zone defense for the entire game, the fifth-grade Islanders fell behind early and trailed by seven points early in the second half. But the team rallied to take the lead and held on for a 40-36 victory to post a 4-0 record for the weekend.

The three Islanders teams combined to produce an impressive 9-3 record for the weekend against top notch competition.

In addition to all the games, the tournament featured a three-point shooting contest on Sunday and an all-tournament team for each grade division. Islanders Emerson Schulz (fifth grade) and David Emanuels (sixth grade) were named to the all-tournament team.

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