Different opponent, same story

Third-quarter swoon costs MI girls

Third-quarter swoon costs MI girls

Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter

The start of the third quarter has been a consistent problem for the Mercer Island girls basketball team this year. Scoring droughts for two, three, four and even five minutes to begin the second half has cost the team numerous games. The second round of the Sea-King district playoffs was no different as Seattle Prep rode a 9-0 run during the opening minutes of the third quarter to a 57-43 victory.

“We have always had trouble with the third quarter,” said Islander sophomore Hannah Lilly, who led her team in scoring with 12 points. “We didn’t come out strong and it cost us the game again.”

The two teams seemed to be evenly matched during the first half as they combined for seven lead changes.

Defense was the overriding force for both teams during the first half. Despite being outweighed and shorter than the Prep players, Mercer Island players managed to pester the Panthers into turnovers and fight for rebounds. Islander Jae Shin hit a long three-pointer to give the Islanders an early 5-4 lead, but on the team’s next possession, the freshman lost control of the ball as a Prep player took control and raced for the other end of the court. An alert Amanda Nield managed to force the Panthers into a half court offense instead of an easy lay-up. Mercer Island’s defense would win the battle, forcing Prep into a shot-clock violation and turnover.

But for as well as the Islander defense played, their shooting touch on offense was nowhere to be found as they never gained more than a three-point advantage during the contest.

A long three-pointer from Islander Chloe Snethen tied the game at 24-24 just before the half. It would be the last tie the Islanders would see.

The 9-0 run to start the second half was marked by lackadaisical play by the Islanders, and the Panthers not only cleaning the boards but polishing them too. At the 1:30 mark of the third quarter, Prescott pulled one of her players for lazy play and let her and the team know she was not happy.

“We didn’t come out with the same intensity as we had in the first half,” said Islander Kate DaPron. “But we are a team that tends to dig big holes and battle back.”

The Islanders broke the Panther scoring run as Lilly drove into the key and scored despite being challenged by three Prep players — the second time when Mercer Island players were in the key with the basketball.

Two Prep free throws extended the lead to 39-28, and all hope for the Islanders was quickly fading. A long three by Nield gave the Islanders a little life, but the load and boisterous Prep parents wanted an offensive foul away from the ball. One comment caught the ref’s ear. The official gave the Seattle Prep coach a warning, thinking the comment came from the bench.

But the crowd didn’t seem to faze Mercer Island as they battled back. A rebound by Lilly and pass to Nield in the open court resulted in a fast-break basket and cut the lead to 43-38. Shin hit her second three of the night, one possession later, to cut the lead to 45-41. But the Panters’ advantage in rebounding put the game away down the stretch. Seattle Prep finished the game with more offensive rebounds, 24, than the Islanders’ total rebounds, 23.

Despite the loss, Mercer Island players knew they had the match-up they wanted after earning the No. 2 seed into the tournament with two huge upsets during the KingCo tournament. Prescott believed that the Panthers were a team her girls could beat.

“Clearly we did not take care of business,” said Prescott. “We missed some easy shots, and no one had a good game.”

Mercer Island moved into the consolation bracket and played Lakeside on Tuesday in a loser-out contest (after Reporter deadline).