Mercer Island survives Totems’ fourth quarter rally

The Mercer Island girls basketball team needed a basket.

With a little under a minute to go in the fourth quarter, the Islanders led the Sammamish Totems by just two points (37-35) and hadn’t recorded a field goal in the fourth period. Sammamish had already outscored Mercer Island 11-1 in the first seven minutes of the fourth stanza.

With the shot clock winding down, Mercer Island senior guard Claire Mansfield knocked down a three-pointer as the shot clock expired, extending Mercer Island’s lead to 40-35 against Sammamish with 42 seconds left in regulation.

It was the final bucket either team would score for the remainder of the game.

Mercer Island’s defense held Sammamish scoreless for the final 42 seconds preserving a 40-35 victory on Jan. 10 at Mercer Island High School. The Islanders improved their overall record to 3-5 with the win. Sammamish dropped to 3-9 overall.

Mercer Island girls basketball head coach Gillian d’Hondt wasn’t surprised Mansfield knocked down a crucial shot in crunch time.

“Claire is a poised player,” d’Hondt said. “She is just coming back from an injury and she really hadn’t played all season. For her to knock down a couple of shots today was huge. I’m just really proud of her for playing the whole game and fighting through. She brings that basketball IQ and poise that we need.”

The Islanders snapped a two-game losing streak with the win against the Totems.

“We definitely needed it,” d’Hondt said of the victory. “We are just going to look to the second half of the season and just continue to build and get better every day.”

Mercer Island’s full-court pressure defense flustered Sammamish in the first three quarters of action. The Islanders surrendered a meager 24 points in the first three quarters of play.

“We’re not big so we have to play feisty and we have to play as fast as we can. That is what we rely on for sure,” d’Hondt said.

Mercer Island sophomore Grace Shaddle had a team-high 11 points in the win. Islanders’ freshman guard Annebelle Gersch added 10 points as well.

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