The Islanders defeated the Southridge Suns in a defensive slugfest on Friday night by a score of 46-31 at Spokane Falls Community College.
The Islanders (21-5, 11-3) rode a 16 point effort from junior guard Sam Cohn who led all scorers. Kaj Sherman had a dominating performance for which the Suns (11-11, 9-5) had no answer as the Mercer Island center controlled 11 rebounds.
The game started very slowly as the teams were tied at 6 at the end of the first quarter but the Islanders took control in the second frame outscoring the Suns 13-5. A key moment that swung the momentum in the Islanders favor came with Mercer Island leading 15-9 as senior guard Dallas Jones made a steal for the Suns and went on his way down the court for an uncontested layup. Jones appeared to be in position to cut the Islander lead to 4 but missed the layup. Mercer Island took adavantage of the mishap getting the ball down the court quickly into the hands of senior guard Derek Newhof who burried his third 3-pointer of the half to extend the Mercer Island lead to 9 points. The Islanders would take a 19-11 lead into the locker room.
When the third quarter began Cohn set the pace by hitting a 3-pointer on the first Island possession. Following a Southridge miss, Cohn missed his second 3-point attempt but got a second chance to score after an offensive rebound by senior Ben Emanuels. Emanuels found Cohn who drove down the left side of the lane for layup and the Islanders were suddenly up by 13. Mercer Island didn't let off the throttle as they would go on a run to open up a 36-17 lead with less than a minute remaining in the third period.
To their credit, the Suns refused to give up and went on a 10-0 run over the next 4 minutes to shrink the Mercer Island advantage to 9 points causing head coach Gavin Cree to call for time out. When the Islanders came back onto the court they put the dagger in the heart of the Suns as Kaj Sherman made a basket inside and was fouled. Sherman missed his free throw but Islander captain Quinn Sterling got the offensive rebound and made the put back. The Islanders cruised for the rest of the game's final quarter walking away with a 15 point victory.
Cohn made the all-tournament team earlier this season when the Islanders played in the earlier this year and his 16 points against Southridge extended his streak of scoring in double figures outside of King County.
"Maybe he likes hotel beds," coach Cree said jokingly after the game. "It was really good to see him have a great game."
Cree later pointed out where his team could improve.
"We got outhustled in the first half," he said. "They really boxed us out ... It was hard to get to the offensive boards which we usually feast on."
In addition to Cohn's 16, Newhof scored 15 of his own for the Islanders as the two guards combined to score the same amount of points as the entire Southridge team on Friday night. Senior forward Derek Porter led the Suns with 8 points.
The Islanders will play Kamiakin at 3 p.m. tomorrow (Feb. 26). The winner will earn the right to play at the Tacoma Dome next Thursday (March 3) in the state quarterfinals.