With just 31.1 seconds left in regulation Mercer Island Islanders boys basketball head coach Gavin Cree subbed out seniors Griffin Emanuels and Giovanni Cervantes-Rocha for the final time in their high school careers.
Emanuels and Cervantes-Rocha embraced the coaching staff while receiving a rousing round of applause from the hearty contingent of Mercer Island fans in attendance. The Seattle Prep Panthers may have cruised to a convincing 64-43 against the Islanders in a loser-out, district playoff game on Feb. 10 in Seattle but it couldn’t take away from the immense success the Mercer Island boys basketball program attained during the 2017-18 season. The Islanders finished with an overall record of 12-12 despite losing seniors Ethan Eason and Reid Martinez to injuries earlier this season.
“I love those guys man. They were just warriors all year and their whole career. It is emotional,” Cree said of the senior class.
The Islanders kept the game close in the first half. Seattle Prep had a paltry four-point advantage (25-21) at halftime. The Islanders hit five three-pointers in the first half, which kept the game close.
“If you look at their stats they were 5-for-11 in the first half (from three-point range) and 3-for-17 from two (point range). We talked at halftime about hawking on the weak-side and taking away the three-point line,” Seattle Prep head coach Michael Kelly said.
Seattle Prep outscored Mercer Island 39-22 in the final 16 minutes of regulation to keep their season alive.
“They just outplayed us in the second half plain and simple. That is the way it goes,” Cree said.
The future is bright for the Mercer Island hoops program as they will return the majority of their squad from the 2017-18 season.
“We’ve got a lot of guys back. It is about understanding what it takes. How physical we have to be, how much stronger we have to get and the type of work that we have to do as a group. That is what I’m focused on for the returning guys,” he said.