Local girls and boys hoops teams compete at districts

MIHS and NYHS advance through league tourneys.

Girls and boys basketball squads from Mercer Island High School (MIHS) and Northwest Yeshiva High School (NYHS) will begin their district journeys on Feb. 10.

MIHS is competing in District 2 3A tourneys and NYHS hits the hardwood in the District 1/2/3 1B events.

The MIHS girls finished second in the 3A KingCo tournament following a 69-56 loss to Lake Washington in the championship game on Feb. 7. Caitlin Monahan led the Islanders with 15 points, followed by Anna Marsh with 12 points and Elianna Weiss with 10 points.

“What makes our group special is their willingness to learn. I’ve seen every player on our roster improve and grow and that’s been a huge part of our success this year. We got lucky with a really great group of kids that want to compete. When all of us believe and trust each other, great things happen,” said coach Martin Anderson.

In the girls’ 60-54 win over Liberty (Renton) in the KingCo semis on Feb. 5, Anna Mock led the locals’ scoring with 26 points, Weiss had 13 points and Monahan notched 11 points.

MIHS’s boys finished fourth in the 3A KingCo tourney after a 62-60 loss to Lake Washington on Feb. 7. For the locals, Tristen Cruzen amassed 17 points, Will McDonald had 15 points and Nick Mautone had 10 points.

“This is a great group of guys to be around every day. It’s fun to see different guys step up each game to provide a spark. This group of seniors has been together for a really long time, they are a tight knit group,” said coach Gavin Cree.

The boys defeated Interlake, 70-58, on Feb. 3 at home in a tourney opener behind the scoring of Mautone (22 points, four treys); Will McDonald (19 points, five treys); and Cruzen (15 points).

In a loss to Bellevue, 51-37, in the semis on Feb. 5, MIHS played solid defense and was led by Michael McDonald with 10 points and Mautone with nine points in the offensive realm.


The NYHS boys compiled a 1-1 record in the Sea-Tac League tournament with an opening win over Concordia Christian Academy, 85-70, on Feb. 1 and a semifinal loss to Muckleshoot Tribal High School, 87-68, on Feb. 6.

Against Concordia, NYHS’s Evan Kaufthal amassed 30 points, Sam Chernicoff had 25 points and 12 rebounds, Joe Benoliel had 10 points and Leon Varon had nine points and 14 rebounds off the bench.

In the Muckleshoot contest, the Lions’ Sam Weichbrodt tallied 23 points, Benoliel had 17 points and eight rebounds and Kaufthal had 11 points and 12 boards.

“This team has embraced a massive culture change. We’ve blended my basketball background at MIHS with a strong foundation of talent at NYHS to create a group that is not intimidated by anyone. We’re young — and that shows sometimes — but there is no team in the state that has improved more since its first practice than us,” said coach Steve Bunin.

NYHS’s girls squad finished 2-1 in the league tournament with victories over Concordia Christian, 53-11, on Feb. 1 and Summit Classical Christian School, 32-23, on Feb. 5; and a 49-38 loss to Muckleshoot on Feb. 7.

For the Lion girls against Concordia, Rose Clayman and Paulina Gamel led the scoring with 18 and 14 points, respectively, followed by Leah Menashe with eight points and Jenna Kaufthal with six points. In the Summit triumph, Gamel had 16 points and Clayman had 10 points in the loser-out game. Against Muckleshoot, Keira Birk had 12 points and Gamel had 10.

“The varying levels of basketball experience this year makes it special because the veterans are able to show the rookies that with hard work, perseverance and passion, they can also get better. The passion of the team is contagious,” said coach Nikki Nelson, adding that the Lions received all-around solid performances — especially on defense — from Menashe, Kaufthal, Clayman and Gamel against Muckleshoot.