By David Krueger Herald Writer
EVERETT — The Glacier Peak girls basketball team is known for its intense defensive pressure.
Saturday night, the Grizzlies got a feel for what it was like to be on the other end of it.
Mercer Island held Glacier Peak to a 36 percent shooting percentage, as the Islanders erased an early Grizzlies’ lead and beat Glacier Peak 59-55 in a 3A state semifinal game that went to overtime Saturday night at Everett Community College.
The loss ended the Grizzlies’ season.
“Their team does a great job defensively,” said Glacier Peak head coach Brian Hill. “I think that’s really what makes Mercer Island a good team. Their defense just is tough. They gave us fits all night. When we ended up coming up short on some lay-ins or some missed shots — just their pressure and their defense. They really made it frustrating for us.”
Glacier Peak, the No. 2 team in the most recent Associated Press 3A prep poll, had an 8-0 run in the second quarter to open up its biggest lead of the game at 20-10. But Mercer Island cut into the lead and had the deficit down to two at halftime.
The Grizzlies looked like they might pull away at the end of the third quarter, with a five-point lead and momentum after a basket by Kianna Garner right before the buzzer sounded.
However, Mercer Island caught up thanks to eight points by Jessica Blakeslee in the fourth quarter. The Islanders forced overtime, where they jumped out to an early lead and held off a late charge by Glacier Peak.
“I think every mistake seemed magnified today with our team,” Hill said. “It’s that fear of losing. And we made mistakes. But we make mistakes in every game. But I think today, the mistakes just really seemed to be magnified. It seemed like everybody was just not wanting to screw up. And I don’t think we screwed up. I think they just played a really good game.”
Julia Blumenstein scored the first five points in overtime for Mercer Island. Glacier Peak trailed by as many as six in the period, but got to within three after a Natalie Rasmussen 3-pointer with 55 seconds left. A foul gave the Grizzlies a chance to pull closer with bonus free throws, but Glacier Peak couldn’t capitalize on the front end of a one-and-one.
A free throw by Renae Tessem the next time down the floor all but sealed the win for Mercer Island (16-10 overall).
Blakeslee, Mercer Island’s sophomore point guard, had a game-high 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Islanders, who move on to the 3A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome next weekend.
Glacier Peak was led by a pair of seniors playing in their final game as Grizzlies. Nicole Fausey had a double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds and Taylor Baird added 13 points for Glacier Peak, which outrebounded Mercer Island 41-29. Junior Sadie Mensing added 12 points and nine rebounds.
Despite the loss, the Grizzlies won 21 games this season and made it to state for the fourth-consecutive year. Hill called it one of the best Glacier Peak teams he’s had.
“In high school basketball you get to that 20-win mark and that’s pretty cool,” Hill said. “We got there, which was great. We were district champs, which was great. We were league champs, which was great. It’s nice to get to Tacoma. It’s a good reward. It hurts a little bit now and it stings, but we’ll bounce back and be better people because of it.”
With five seniors graduating — including 6-foot posts Baird and Fausey — Hill thinks Glacier Peak will have a different look next season.
But he hopes the Grizzlies’ recent string of success continues.
“Everybody’s going to look at our roster and say, ‘Oh they’re losing five seniors and they’re losing two big posts.’ Well, we’ll be OK,” Hill said. “We’ve got a plan.”
At Everett Community College
Mercer Island 8 10 12 19 10 — 59
Glacier Peak 12 8 15 14 6 — 55
Mercer Island–Jamie Mounger 0, Suri Johnson 2, Rachel Tessem 8, Jessica Blakeslee 21, Taylor Krause 9, Anna Luce 0, Julia Blumenstein 12, Arianna Moscatel 2, Renae Tessem 5. Glacier Peak–Taylor Baird 13, Sadie Mensing 12, Natalie Rasmussen 6, Sarah Smith 2, Sawyer Manning 0, Kianna Garner 2, Samantha Fatkin 4, Paisley Johnson 0, Nicole Fausey 16. 3-point goals–Blumenstein 2, Krause 1, Rasmussen 2. Records–Mercer Island 16-10 overall. Glacier Peak 21-3.