The Mercer Island girls select basketball teams continue to excel in the Puget Sound Travel League (“PSTL”).
The weekend of March 10 - 11 marked the season ending tournament for the PSTL. All four Mercer Island girls teams qualified for the PSTL Gold Division playoffs reserved for the top half of the regular season finishers. The combined regular season PSTL league record for the four Mercer Island teams was 39-17.
The 8th grade girls entered the PSTL playoffs as the #9 seed and defeated Bothell in overtime in their first game to earn a shot at the top seeded Skyline team. Mercer Island’s girls gave Skyline everything they could handle before falling 42-39. Mercer Island had the ball with a chance to tie the game with a three-pointer but the last second attempt was denied.
The 7th grade Mercer Island girls entered the playoffs as a #5 seed and drew the 12-2 Eastlake team in the first round. Mercer Island battled throughout but came up short in the end, falling to the talented Eastlake squad. Despite the loss, the 7th grader finished the season with an outstanding overall record of 25-11.
The 6th grade Islander girls, coached by James “LJ” Johnson, entered the playoffs as the #1 seed and continued their domination of this class. After a 13-1 regular season and championships in three different tournaments, the Mercer Island 6th graders had a target on their backs. The first round opponent was Newport, an underrated #8 seed. Mercer Island jumped ahead early and had an easier victory than expected against Newport. This brought about a semifinal matchup with Skyline. This game was a classic defensive battle of two strong teams. Each time Mercer Island took a small lead, Skyline rallied. The game went to overtime tied at 27. In overtime, a couple baskets were all that it took as Mercer Island pulled out a 31-27 victory. Claire Mansfield led the Islanders with 12 points on four three-pointers. The win put the Islanders in the championship against the #2 seeded Glacier Peak Grizzlies. This game was a tale of two halves. The Grizzlies controlled the first half and coasted to a 20-8 halftime lead. Coach Johnson’s halftime pep talk must have inspired the girls as they went on a 15-0 run in the third quarter to take a 23-20 lead after three. The fourth quarter was back and forth until the Islanders pulled away in the final minute for a 33-28 victory and the title of 6th grade PSTL champions. Aolani Calderon paced the Islanders with 15 points and 9 rebounds. Mansfield contributed 13 points and 5 steals, including clutch free throws in the final minute. The Mercer Island 6th grade team finished the season with an overall record of 31-3.
The 5th grade girls, coached by Regi Raban, were one of the biggest surprises of the tournament. The team started the season with a 2-5 record in PSTL play before a string of seven consecutive victories earned them a #7 seed in the Gold Division playoffs. Their first round opponent was #2 seed Monroe. The game was a nailbiter as the Islanders rallied from multiple deficits throughout the game and eventually won a squeeker, 39-38. Emily Arron led the Islanders with 22 points. The second game against the #3 seed Interlake was just as exciting. After trailing by double digits in the first half, the Islander girls stormed back in the second half. Arron poured in 10 of her team leading 21 points in the second half as Mercer Island broke the game open late and upset Interlake, 49-41. The win over Interlake earned the team a spot in the championship game against #1 seed Jackson. Again, the Islanders fell behind early. But this time the deficit was too much to overcome. The team trailed by 13 points entering the fourth quarter and mounted a furious rally to close the gap to four but could not get any closer. The final score was 38-34. Angelina Barokas and Jackie Stenberg paced the Islanders with 12 and 10 points, respectively. The second place finish in the PSTL playoffs was an outstanding accomplishment for the 5th grade team, which ended its season with a 20-13 overall record.