Things appear to be coming together for the Mercer Island boys basketball team just as rubber meets road for the season’s final stretch.
The Islanders picked up their sixth straight win and eighth victory in their last nine games, defeating the Interlake Saints 70-28 Tuesday night at Interlake High School.
With the win and Liberty High’s 58-55 victory over Bellevue on Tuesday, Mercer Island (11-6, 10-2 in KingCo) claimed a half-game lead over the Patriots atop the KingCo 2A/3A standings with two league contests remaining. Two more wins would earn Mercer Island its first KingCo regular season title since 2013.
But the road will not be easy. Mercer Island will travel to Liberty High to take on the Patriots (11-4, 9-2) in its next conference matchup at 8 p.m. this Friday.
“We can control what we control,” Mercer Island coach Gavin Cree said. “[Liberty] would like to have a banner up on their wall, as would we. That was one of our main goals before the year, as it always is, and it’s right there for the taking for somebody.”
Mercer Island was very much in control against Interlake (4-12, 2-10) Tuesday night. After Interlake’s Lucas Allen connected from deep to open the contest, the Islanders scored the next 15 points of the game and continued to cruise from there. Mercer Island led 17-6 after the first quarter and extended its advantaged to 37-13 at the half. Defensively, the Islanders limited the Saints to single-digit scoring in each of the game’s four quarters.
“Our individual fundamentals defensively have steadily improved for our guys,” Cree said. “The veteran guys that we have, Shain [Scott] and Griffin [Emanuels], have been solid and have been holding our guys accountable for intensity, and the young guys have come along with their fundamentals. All of that is kind of coming together right now.”
Emanuels led Mercer Island with 16 points. He said team chemistry is as high as its ever been this season.
“I think just overall since the start of the season, we’ve improved so much,” Emanuels said. “I think the main area is our ball movement. We were really stagnant early in the year and we really started just drilling that in practice, making that a big emphasis offensively and it’s gotten way better.”
Rainier McDonald and William Lee each added nine points for the Islanders, while Scott and Ethan Eason each scored seven. Gavin Dayment led Interlake with six points.
Next, Mercer Island hosts Newport in a nonconference matchup at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at Mercer Island High School.