An evenly-matched game after the first quarter of play between Mercer Island and the Sammamish Totems boys basketball teams appeared to possess the attributes of a nail-biter contest.
It never happened.
The Islanders, who led the Totems by a paltry three points (14-11) at the end of the first quarter, outscored the Totems 61-37 in the final three quarters of play en route to a 75-48 victory on Jan. 10 at Sammamish High School in Bellevue. The Islanders improved their overall record to 6-6 with the win while Sammamish dropped to 0-14.
Mercer Island forward Griffin Emanuels, who scored 18 points and knocked down seven free throws, said his squad panicked a bit in the first eight minutes of play but quickly regained their composure.
“We just kind of settled down and started executing a lot better. We picked it up on the defensive end,” Emanuels said. “I thought the intensity was there, but Sammamish came out really hard (in the first quarter). It was a battle in the first quarter.”
Despite being outscored by 24 points in the final 24 minutes of play, Sammamish guard Chase Rodriguez thought his team exuded its heart throughout the duration of the contest.
“I think we fought hard throughout the game. I think they just made more shots than us,” Rodriguez said.
Mercer Island’s ball movement in the final three quarters of play resulted in a multitude of easy buckets. Ball movement is just a typical mode of operation for the Islanders basketball team.
“We have been moving the ball really well the past couple of weeks. We have been focusing on it. Our guys are unselfish. They are willing to make the next pass. We call it the next pass rather than the extra pass because extra means it’s something you don’t need, next means it is the right play,” Mercer Island head coach Gavin Cree explained.
Emanuels wasn’t surprised his team had a plethora of high percentage shots against the Totems.
“Ball movement has been a huge priority for us in practice. I thought we really showed that well today. We had some great passes for layups,” Emanuels said.