Mercer Island opened the Arizona Basketball Challenge on Wednesday, Dec. 26 with a convincing 51-34 win over host Mesa Mountain View High School in Mesa, Arizona.
The Islanders raced out to a quick 19-5 lead and finished the first half up 33-14. The cold-shooting Toros couldn't mount a charge against the Islanders until late in the second half, when the outcome was already certain. Kaleb Warner led all scorers with 19, hitting threes, getting to the rim and pulling down some physical rebounds. Joe Rasmussen scored 10 points pulled down a bunch of rebounds on both ends of the floor and neutralized the number four junior center recruit in the nation, Payton Dastrup (offers from ASU, University of Arizona, BYU, Florida, Virginia and USC).
Coach Cree commented after the game, “It was fun matching up with such a prestigious program on their home floor. Our guys came ready to play and it showed. Kaleb got going early and we got off to a hot start. Joe imposed his will out there. He was tough on the boards and made some nice moves inside on Dastrup. Joe deserves a lot of credit holding Peyton Dastrup to 7 points and 4 rebounds, but it was a team effort.”
Nick Nordale distributed the ball, hit the defensive glass hard and finished with 12 points. Espen Platou rebounded strong, regularly beat both teams down the floor in transition and finished with 4 points. Jake Shaddle hit a big three early in the game and played a steady point to guide the Islanders, while also doing his share on the defensive glass. For the game the Islanders outrebounded the Toros 40-23.
The Islanders enjoyed very strong bench play, with Coach Cree substituting early and often throughout the contest. Max Tilden, Jack Counihan, Daniel Sims and Will Taylor played key roles on both ends and saw significant playing time in the first half. The fluid lineups continued in the second half with Teddy van der Velden, Peter Welch, Nikhil Misra and Alex Emanuels playing solid defense and making it difficult for the Toros to score. David Emanuels played key minutes at guard throughout the game finishing with 3 points.
The Islanders play St. John's Jesuit of Toledo, Ohio today, Dec. 27 at 2:30 p.m. The Titans are led by Ohio St. bound Marc Loving, a 6-9 senior forward. St. John's was upset in its first game against Gilbert High School and they will be looking to come back strong.
Mercer Island is also scheduled to play Gilbert on Friday, Dec. 28 at 10 a.m.