Mount Si’s boys’ basketball team is on the cusp of greatness. Our preview, and thoughts on whether they’ll achieve it tonight

Time now to talk hoops on this Saturday.

MOUNT SI HIGH SCHOOL BOYS’ BASKETBALL
KINGCO 4A PLAYOFFS-WINNER TO STATE, LOSER OUT
MOUNT SI WILDCATS VS. SKYLINE SPARTANS
LAKE WASHINGTON HIGH SCHOOL, KIRKLAND, TIP 7:45 PM

Every game for this Mount Si boys’ basketball team gets bigger by the game as this program is reaching heights not seen since 2006. Tonight, the Wildcats aim to make a return trip to state, and face a team that they beat on this same floor last weekend to earn a chance for the Kingco title, a chance that slipped through their hands on Thursday as they ran out of gas too soon and fell to Bothell. Mount Si, with that loss, now sits at 13-10 on the season, with Skyline, who rebounded with a pair of loser out wins this week to make it back into this rematch tonight, sitting at 17-6.

The player from Skyline we will focus on, and the one that Mount Si’s defense has to shut down, is senior Ashish Manda. The forward is leading the team in scoring, averaging 12 points a contest. But the Wildcats defense did its job on Manda last Saturday, holding him to just nine points. However, he has responded in a big way in the Spartans’ last two games – both loser-out wins, one last Tuesday over Issaquah, then again on Thursday over Eastlake – scoring 16 points apiece in both of those games leading the green, silver and white. It can be argued that the deciding factor last Saturday in Mount Si’s victory over Skyline, which happens to be the Spartans’ only loss in their last eight games dating back to January 23, was the Wildcat defense’s efforts on Manda. The biggest key, then, for Mount Si, is simple: Shut this guy down. Shut this guy down.

So, who gets the task defensively for Mount Si to do this important work? Well, players such as senior Jack Westover and junior Jonny Barrett will likely get that call, as will the big three of Patterson, Mullins and Sidhu. Sophomore Jabe Mullins led the way for Mount Si last Saturday, scoring 13 in that win that sent them into last Thursday’s Kingco title game. Junior Bijon Sidhu scored 10 points to pace the efforts that night, but was held to five points on Thursday in the loss to Bothell. He’ll look to pick it up, as will sophomore Tyler Patterson, who was held to just seven points in the matchup last weekend. He’s coming off a modest nine-point effort on Thursday, so he’s due for a big outing. Perhaps tonight is the night.

But we also think there’s going to be an intangible element in this one. Both teams will be coming in we suspect a little unhappy, and for different reasons – Skyline, because their loss to Mount Si last weekend cost them a chance to compete for the league title, and also because they barely escaped with their season on Thursday beating Eastlake by just one point, 56-55, and the Wildcats after failing to close the deal last Thursday and losing the league title game to the Cougars. So one of these teams will get their sense of redemption and a trip to regionals, and the other will see their season end, goals and dreams perhaps unfulfilled.

We should also mention, too, to keep an eye on Spartan Nigel Seda, who led Skyline last Saturday with 13 points. Seda could be a wild-card for Mount Si’s defense to contend with if they do successfully handle what Manda offers offensively tonight.

As noted, the two teams are battling for a trip to regionals, and a little redemption. Mount Si knows what it has to do, but also needs to recognize Skyline will be ready, so coach Jason Griffith must not be afraid to call quick timeouts to make adjustments if necessary. Griffith knows this type of pressure well – he guided Issaquah to several state tournament appearances as the Eagles’ head coach before coming to Mount Si two years ago. And he is on the cusp of bringing this program back to a glory not seen since ex-longtime coach Garrick Phillips took this team to state in 2006 in his final season as Wildcat coach. Will it happen tonight? Hard to tell, and with that in mind, we take Skyline for purposes of our pick. But if it doesn’t happen tonight, mark our words here. Next year. Next year.

SKYLINE 66, MOUNT SI 64

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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