Islanders prove their mettle at Gonzaga team camp

Mercer Island Islanders boys basketball squad is an experienced group.

The 2019-20 high school basketball season can’t come soon enough for the Mercer Island Islanders boys basketball program.

The Islanders, who will return eight varsity players this winter from last year’s squad, culminated their summer basketball workouts at the Gonzaga team camp, which took place from June 30 through July 3 in Spokane.

Mercer Island head coach Gavin Cree said his team won five of its seven games at the camp against formidable competition from Eastern Washington, Montana and Idaho.

“Team camp is sort of the culmination of summer for us. A lot of times, you don’t have all your players (June tournaments). We had most of our guys healthy and available at Gonzaga. We went 5-2 in the top division. We had some pretty good wins against some solid teams,” Cree said. “Probably our best win came against Ferris. We beat them by 20 or so. It was as signature moment for us.”

Cree said the game plan for the summer is for his players to fine tune their games as much as possible.

“Summer is about getting better. It is nothing that is required to do for anybody on the team the following year, but good programs have great participation,” Cree explained. “It is an opportunity to improve and see where you stand as a player. The kids really put some of the things they’ve been working on into action.”

The Islanders return a bevy of talented players to the roster during the 2019-20 season. Cree said post player David Pickles, who missed summer workouts due to an injury, will be ready to hit the court when practices commence this November. Nigel Seda (guard) and Adam Parker (forward) are two of the Islanders best playmakers.

“Nigel had a really awesome team camp performance. He was really consistent and really attacked on offense,” Cree said of Seda. “Adam Parker is also back and had a great summer. He played in a showcase event at Bellevue College.”

Cree said Nate Wenzel, Luke Wenzel, Tyler Butson, Lukas Varney, Chris Clarke and Alex Arron impressed him with their play throughout the duration of the summer. Clark and Arron are battling for the open point guard starting position vacated by 2019 graduate Will Lee.

“Will (Lee) is a big player to replace and is the only starter we are losing. They are vying for that spot,” Cree said.

The strength of the Islanders basketball program is their sticky man-to-man defense.

“Our calling card continues to be our defense. We’re a really tenacious defensive team. We really caused problems for other teams at camp. It was fun to see. We had some teams who were frustrated with our ball pressure and intensity. We have a lot of guys who can guard the ball,” Cree said.