Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography Mercer Island junior guard Jessie Stenberg controls the ball while being guarded by Bishop Blanchet star player Jadyn Bush. Bishop Blanchet defeated Mercer Island 48-47 in a Class 3A regional playoff game on Feb. 24 at Bothell High School.

Islanders lose to Braves in regional playoff game

With 8.7 seconds left in regulation Bishop Blanchet Braves girls basketball player Jadyn Bush hit one of two free throws, giving her team a 48-47 lead against the Mercer Island Islanders in a Class 3A regional playoff matchup.

Mercer Island put the ball in the hands of point guard Kailee Yan on the next possession. Yan, who scored 19 points in the game, drove to the basket and unleashed a high percentage shot toward the rim. The shot just caromed off the mark as the rebound fell to a Bishop Blanchet player. Mercer Island’s Anna Luce was able to tie up the Braves player for a jump ball. The possession arrow was pointed in the Islanders direction, giving them another chance with 0.5 seconds left on the clock. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Bush deflected the pass out of bounds, giving the Islanders the ball back with just 0.3 seconds left in regulation. On the next inbounds pass the Braves stole the ball, sealing a hard-fought 48-47 victory against the Islanders on Feb. 24 at Bothell High School. The Braves clinched a berth in the Class 3A state quarterfinals with the victory. The Islanders will play in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament at 2 p.m. on March 1 at the Tacoma Dome. Mercer Island head coach Gillian d’Hondt said the outcome of the game could had gone either way. Mercer Island trailed Bishop Blanchet by six points on four different occasions in the second half but continued to battle their way back.

“I thought we did a great job of not giving up and being right there in the game. A few less turnovers and a few more rebounds and it could had been a victory easily,” d’Hondt said.

Despite the loss to Bishop Blanchet, the Islanders are confident in their ability to succeed at the Class 3A state tournament this coming week at the Tacoma Dome. Mercer Island senior post player Anna Luce, who will play college basketball at Dartmouth College next year, said her squad is excited about the opportunity on the horizon.

“Our goal is to get as far as we can and win a game. We’ve never won a game in our program at state. That is definitely our goal. We got a little more work to put in the next few days at practice and we’ll be back at it,” Luce said.

Luce was glad to see Yan dominate from the perimeter against Bishop Blanchet. Yan scored 15 points in the first half which kept the Islanders in the game.

“I’m really proud of Kailee for starting off the game strong. She was hitting some great shots and was doing a great job,” Luce said of Yan.

d’Hondt is confident her team can compete against any opponent they encounter at the Tacoma Dome.

“I think we can play with anybody. We just have to make up for our lack of size with feistiness. We just have to play the full 32 minutes tough,” she said. “We need to be more aggressive offensively as a whole. That is what we’ve been working on in practice and we hope to continue to do that before state.”

The Islanders, who captured a 50-44 win against the previously undefeated Braves in the Class 3A SeaKing playoffs on Feb. 16, are confident due in a large part to their two performances against the powerhouse Bishop Blanchet basketball program.

“Knowing we beat the No. 1 team is amazing and knowing we can stick with them the second time is great too,” Luce said.

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