Midway through the second quarter of play, things didn’t look ideal for the Mercer Island Islanders boys basketball team in their 3A KingCo matchup against the Juanita Rebels.
Juanita, which led Mercer Island 19-12 at that juncture of the game, was controlling the action in all facets. The Islanders closed out the second quarter with a 9-2 run, tying the game at 21-21 at halftime. Mercer Island hit clutch shots from the perimeter and the free throw line down the stretch, en route to a 56-49 win against Juanita on Dec. 11 at Mercer Island High School. The Islanders improved their overall record to 4-1 with the victory. Juanita dropped to 2-4 overall.
Mercer Island head coach Gavin Cree was thrilled to see his team get on track after a shaky first half.
“Juanita wanted it more than us in the first half and they showed their grit throughout the game,” Cree said. “We’ve got to bring it for 32 minutes. Everybody in this league wants to win and there is no unbelievable clear favorite. Anyone can beat anyone. We learned a lesson tonight.”
Juanita head coach Justin Mezistrano was proud of his team’s showing despite the defeat on the road.
“I was really happy with the way we performed tonight. Mercer Island did a great job and that is a credit to them. We had a couple of chances in the second half to hit some really big shots. We had some great possessions but we just didn’t finish them off,” Mezistrano said.
Mercer Island junior guard Adam Parker finished with a team-high 20 points in the contest. Parker calmly sunk four free throws in the final 34 seconds to seal the victory.
“Adam is a beast. He has really taken that next step. It isn’t the first time he’s done this. I’m not surprised. He has come up big for us in every single one of our wins,” Islanders senior co-captain Will Lee said.
Lee finished with 14 points and hit two clutch shots from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter, quelling Juanita’s comeback bid.
“Will has stepped up the last two games and made some big 3-pointers for us. He doesn’t hesitate in those situations. That is why he has the green-light to shoot those shots,” Cree said of Lee. “We went to Adam several times and he made plays. He stepped up and he was a rock for us on the offensive side of the ball. He battled hard and got boards (rebounds) too. It was a tough physical game.”