Mercer Island girls basketball team advances to district title game

The Mercer Island Islanders girls basketball team registered a monumental victory against one of the best teams in Washington in the Class 3A 2017 SeaKing District II semifinals.

The Islanders, who trailed the No. 1 seeded Bishop Blanchet Braves 31-21 at halftime, nabbed a 50-44 comeback victory on Feb. 16 at Bellevue College. It was the first time during the 2016-17 season the Braves have suffered a defeat. Bishop Blanchet dropped to 22-1 overall while Mercer Island improved to 20-4. The Islanders will face West Seattle in the SeaKing District championship game at 8:15 p.m. on Feb. 18. Things didn’t look good early for the Islanders against a formidable Braves squad. Mercer Island trailed by 10 points after two quarters of play.

The second half was a completely different game for the Islanders.

In the third and fourth quarter, the Islanders unveiled a trapping zone defense that flustered the Braves. The Islanders put pressure on Bishop Blanchet from baseline-to-baseline which paid dividends. Mercer Island went on a 14-0 run to start the second half, building a 35-31 lead on a Anna Luce basket with 2:31 left in the third quarter. The Islanders controlled the action in the fourth quarter coming up with three key offensive rebounds in the final four minutes of play, preserving the victory.

Mercer Island junior guard Jessie Stenberg was jovial following the biggest win of the 2016-17 season to date.

“We are so excited. We came in here and wanted to win and we did it,” Stenberg said. “This was one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced this season. It is a huge win for us. Our game plan was to pressure the ball and make them have turnovers. We just played with high intensity.”

The Islanders have struggled with rebounding throughout the season but came up with the crucial offensive boards when they needed it the most in the fourth quarter.

“They left it all on the floor. Jessie (Stenberg) and Josie (Blakeslee) came up huge on the glass. It meant everything, especially going up against the biggest team we’ve seen all year. We just wanted it tonight. It was all heart and effort,” Mercer Island head coach Gillian d’Hondt said. “Now we know we can beat anybody so we’re going in (district title game) with confidence. This game was huge.”

d’Hondt was glad her squad was able to recover from a sluggish first half.

“We came out slow but we awoke from our slumber as I like to put it in the second half by coming out aggressive. We knew we could run on them and we executed our offense very well in the second half. We’re excited to move on,” she said.

The Islanders have won their past three playoff games since losing to Bellevue 49-45 on Feb. 9 in the Class 3A KingCo title game.

“Honestly I think it (loss) helped us. It brought us together. It exploited our weaknesses and helped us get better,” Stenberg said.

Luce scored a game-high 26 points in the win against Bishop Blanchet.

More in Sports

Mercer Island Islanders senior pitcher Liam Dammeier has an overall record of 3-1 on the hill during his senior season thus far. Shaun Scott/staff photo
Redemption on the rubber

Mercer Island senior hurler Liam Dammeier is the epitome of an ace.

Former Mercer Island Islanders boys soccer head coach Colin Rigby, left, Jordan Morris, center, and Islanders boys soccer head coach Forrest Marowitz pose for a quick photo on April 23 at Islander Stadium. Morris was inducted into the Mercer Island High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of Kim Otte
Morris inducted into MIHS Athletic Hall of Fame

Mercer Island legend returns home for a memorable celebration.

Mercer Island Islanders senior Max Tanzer, right, slides safely into third base on a close play while being tagged by Interlake third baseman Charlie Galanti in the top of the fourth inning. Mercer Island defeated Interlake, 11-0, on April 17 in Bellevue. Photo courtesy of Jim Nicholson
Islanders shut out the Saints

Mercer Island continues its hot streak on the diamond.

Simply sensational!

Tiger Woods’ improbable victory resonates across America.

The Mercer Island Islanders girls golf team currently has an overall record of 3-2 in early season play on the links. The Islanders golf program, which is its 22nd year of existence, has won three state titles, seven KingCo titles and 10 district championships over the past two decades. The 2019 team is led by captains Annelise Rorem and Katelyn Travis. The Islanders registered their 200th career victory as a program earlier this season. Photo courtesy of Billy Pruchno
Islanders girls golf team is striving for excellence

The Mercer Island Islanders girls golf team currently has an overall record… Continue reading

Mercer Island junior midfielder Luca Mtskhetadze, left, celebrates with teammate Jonah Hyman, right, after scoring on a header in the 87th minute of play, giving his team a 2-1 lead in overtime. Mercer Island held on for a 2-1 victory against the Juanita Rebels on April 11. Photo courtesy of Patrick Krohn/Patrick Krohn Photography
Islanders register comeback victory against Rebels

Mercer Island prevails in overtime against Juanita.

Mercer Island senior outfielder Cole Miller will continue his baseball career with the Huskies next year. Shaun Scott, staff photo
Miller patrols the outfield with passion for the Islanders

Mercer Island senior will continue his baseball career at the University of Washington.

A coveted goal is attained

Relentless work ethic pays dividends.

Mercer Island Islanders senior girls lacrosse player Grace Fujinaga will continue her lacrosse career at the University of Pennsylvania. Shaun Scott, staff photo
Fujinaga is a dominant force on the lacrosse field

Mercer Island Islanders senior girls lacrosse player Grace Fujinaga hasn’t forgotten her… Continue reading

The Mercer Island Islanders varsity boys soccer team is looking forward to the 2019 season. Photo courtesy of Sophy Yang
Islanders are looking to dominate on the soccer field

Expectations never waver for the Mercer Island Islanders boys soccer program. The… Continue reading

Optimism remains supreme in March for baseball fans

Home opener is on the horizon for the Seattle Mariners.

Mercer Island Islanders senior point guard Will Lee earned 3A KingCo first-team all league honors for his play during the 2018-19 season. The Islanders finished with an overall record of 17-6. Shaun Scott, staff photo
Lee exudes leadership during memorable season on hardwood

Mercer Island senior Will Lee was the definition of a floor general.