The curtain fell on the 2010-11 season for the Islanders on Saturday (Feb. 26) as fell to the Kamiakin Braves at Spokane Falls Community College.
In a game that was much closer than the final score indicated, Braves senior guard Case Rada had a sensational night—scoring 20 points and connecting on five of six three-point attempts from beyond the arc.
Mercer Island (21-6, 11-3) controlled the opening tip and got on the board first when senior guard Derek Newhof found fellow senior Kaj Sherman inside for an easy layup. The Braves responded immediately, getting a 3-pointer from senior guard Tyler Holle, which caused the first of seven first-quarter lead changes in an early back-and-forth battle. The seventh lead change came with just 2 seconds remaining in the opening period, which gave the Braves a 13-12 lead and started a 13-2 run that would give the Braves a double digit lead midway through the second quarter.
The Islanders hung tough for awhile but just before halftime Rada hit his third 3-pointer of the night and the Braves (19-2, 13-0) took a 30-19 lead to the locker rooms.
When the teams came back onto the court it was Mercer Island that controlled the pace of the game. The Islanders went on a 9-0 run to start the second half, which cut the Braves' lead to 2 points. The margin stayed between 2 and 4 for the rest of the third quarter until Hollie made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave the Braves a 6-point lead at 38-32.
In the fourth quarter the Braves took over. Kamiakin scored the first six points of the quarter very quickly on consecutive 3-point baskets to open up a 12-point lead. A few minutes later Islander captain Quinn Sterling fouled out and left the court wearing an Islander uniform for the last time with his team trailing 47-34. Kamiakin got two easy layups in the next 25 seconds to push their lead to 17 and sink any remaining hopes of an Islander comeback.
In addition to Rada’s 20 points Holle added 19 for the Braves. Newhof and Sherman tied for the Islander lead scoring nine points apiece.
“They were better than we were today,” Islander head coach Gavin Cree commented after the game. “They shot the you know what out of the ball,” added Cree commenting on the Braves' unprecedented 70 percent shooting from 3-point range.
Later when asked what stood out the most about the recently completed season an emotional Cree addressed the character of his team, stating, “The adversity…we showed a lot of heart all year. We just didn’t have it today.”
The Islanders fell one game short of getting to the Tacoma Dome for a chance at the state title this season. The next basketball game for Mercer Island High School will be played nine months from now but the courage of this year’s squad will never be forgotten. When the 2011-2012 season kicks off come late November Coach Cree and the entire Islander fan base will be able to look up at the wall at Ed Pepple gymnasium and be reminded of the adversity of the 2010-2011 Islanders when they cast their eyes upon a banner that reads “KingCo Champions.”