Like last year, the Islanders did it the hard way. By losing to Bellevue and O'Dea early in the Sea-King II District tournament this year, they put themselves in the position of having to win two games to get to the State Tournament.
But Saturday afternoon, less than 24 hours after beating Bellevue handily, the Islanders beat the Franklin Quakers in a close contest.
Mercer Island held about a five point lead throughout the game, pulling away a bit in the third quarter when Joe Rasmussen went on an 8-point scoring frenzy. But the Quakers kept hanging around, and it was a one-point game (MI 61-60) with two minutes left to go in the fourth.
There were some tense moments when fouls resulted in free throws at both ends. Joe Rasmussen was fouled, and he made one of two freethrows. Then Andrew Hawkins of Franklin was fouled, and did the same.
Rasmussen had another opportunity with 6.7 seconds to go, Islanders up 62-61, and made one of two free throws, which was enough. Game over at 63-61, an exciting finish.
Coach Gavin Cree was proud that the team responded to the tough Metro league defense.
"We're not accustomed to the speed of the Metro League, and there was a lot of grabbing and contact, which they forgive a bit more in the playoffs," Cree said. "It helped that we came out strong with our offense."
"We stuck with our own game, and ran our whole playbook, instead of responding to their game," Cree said.
The team experienced fairly balanced scoring this season, with most production coming from Sam Cohn, Kaleb Warner, Brian Miller and Joe Rasmussen. Cree said.
Rasmussen led the offense with 22 points, Cohn had 17, Warner 7, Jeff Lindquist 6, Sean Hughes 5, and Brian Miller 4.
The first game in the state tournament is Friday at Rogers High School in Puyallup