Valley high school basketball has successful Thursday on the holiday hardwood, plus news from the pitch and the diamond Down Under…..

Good Friday morning. We hit the hardwood this morning and we have news on a successful day for Valley high school basketball teams at holiday tournaments yesterday.

We start with Mount Si High School’s boys. Part of the reason why head coach Jason Griffith has had his team compete the past couple of seasons – including this year – at the Rancho Mirage Holiday Invitational in southern California has been to expose the team to the type of national-caliber competition that tournament draws every year. And with the expectations – and talent level – of the top Wildcat players being very high this year, Mount Si has had the opportunity to play in the top division down there, meaning opportunities to shine against some of this country’s best high school teams. Well, yesterday, the Valley’s best did just that.

Mount Si used strong three-point shooting early, overall excellent competitiveness on the boards and on defense, and just great overall team play, to post perhaps one of the best wins this program has ever had in its history, a 66-62 triumph over suburban Atlanta’s Pebblebrook, a top-40 ranked program nationally, in a game that wasn’t really much of a contest until very late – Mount Si had at one point as high as a 15-point lead and pretty much had command of the entire game, but even when faced with pressure, our community’s boys responded well and got the job done.

Tyler Patterson and Jabe Mullins each had 21 to lead Mount Si, whose three-point shooting, especially in the first half, was a big difference. So was the team play, according to Griffith. “Anytime you shoot around 50% that bodes well for the team. We had no choice but to play with confidence to win this game. The kids stepped up and made shots,” he told us by email. “Let’s not forget that guys were finding each other and making unselfish plays.”

Also, as noted, the guys were very competitive on the rebounding front, as well, matching up well with a very athletic Pebblebrook crew. “We were great on the glass,” Griffith said. “I can’t remember many put-backs for them and they go 6’9”, 6’8”, 6’6” at times. We competed for every rebound!”

Pebblebrook as noted did make a late run, and came within two points of taking the lead in the dying seconds of regulation, but the Wildcat defense held tough then Mullins hit a pair of free throws to seal it. “We knew Pebblebrook was going to make a run at us. You don’t play the 38th ranked team in the country and not face adversity,” Griffith said. “We did a great job of recollecting ourselves in timeouts and coming out focused with a purpose.”

Of note as well was that the starting five players for Mount Si – Mullins, Patterson, Brett Williams (who added 14 points), Jonny Barrett (who played very well and ended up with a solid 10-point afternoon) and Bennett O’Connor (who ran the offense all game quite well and ended up with seven assists) played pretty much the entire game, with limited to no substitutions, similar to how things went on Wednesday night in their loss to Pinnacle.

While these are their best five guys no doubt, thus giving the Wildcats the best chance of victory against these strong opponents they are facing, the pitfall of playing them as much early as they have been in this tournament is the potential of fatigue with this being a four-game in four-day tournament, and possible overuse-related injuries that could result. Conditioning for those five guys in particular is going to be key for Mount Si to be able to continue to have the success they have had thus far in going a strong 1-1 in this top division of the tournament.

Mount Si is at it again today down in SoCal. They play their final pool game tonight with Moreau Catholic, from the East Bay area of northern California, Hayward to be specific.

Scouting the Mariners: Moreau’s squad is aptly nicknamed the Mariners, and unlike the Seattle baseball team that shares their name, this M’s team is doing okay this season. Currently 6-5 after falling to Phoenix’s Pinnacle last night, the Moreau team has a balanced scoring attack, which could be a challenge for Mount Si’s defense. Seniors Glenn Byrd, David Hector, Leonard Turner and Amil Fields are all averaging around 12-13 points a game for MC, with Hector and Turner being the principal rebounders, averaging around six-seven of those a game.

The keys to victory tonight are three-fold. First, tonight’s game will be at a different location – the College of the Desert in Palm Springs – compared to their previous two games, both of which were at Rancho Mirage High School. Mount Si will need to quickly adjust to any differences in sightlines and such for the team to have success early like they did last night especially from outside. Also, the same team play and high overall compete level they showed in last night’s win they’ll need to have that again, and considering what we just noted with the amount of minutes the top guys have played, getting that could be a challenge if the guys aren’t well-conditioned and ready. Third, the outside shooting will need to be working well again like it did last night. Also, if they can avoid an early emotional letdown, which can happen with teams after such a great win like yesterday’s, that will also be a good omen.

Game is at 7:30 tonight and with it being elsewhere tonight instead of at RMHS, we’ll check to see if the game is being streamed live for you on the NFHS Network. Stay with our Twitter feed for updates on that later @snovalleysports.

Cedarcrest boys, girls handle Oroville on opening day of Chelan tourney
Cedarcrest High School’s boys and girls’ basketball squads also enjoyed victory in a holiday tournament, with both teams beating Oroville in the opener of the Chelan Holiday Tournament.

The Red Wolve girls led off, and their game with the ladies from the north central Washington border community ended up being a game where everyone got a chance to play and score points, according to coach Brad Knowles, as Cedarcrest cruised to a 52-13 win after shutting out their opposition in the entire first half. “You never know who you are going to face in a holiday tournament or their talent level. Oroville is a small school in a rebuilding year,” said Knowles by email, and that showed early, as CHS took a 29-0 halftime lead, you read that right, 29-0, then they changed things up a little bit and everyone got in and contributed as noted. Sidra Griffin led things with eight points for the Red Wolves, whose boys then hit the floor afterward at Chelan High School with Oroville’s boys and that, too, was a dominant performance for Cedarcrest, as they posted a 56-31 win. Nicolo Cammarano led the Red Wolves with 10, and Chris Busch added nine for the victors. Spencer Martin scored a game-high 16 to lead the guys from northern Okanogan County.

Cedarcrest continues play at the tournament today, against host Chelan.

Also this morning:

Brown’s blast the icing on the cake in Auckland comeback win: Down 6-1 into the eighth inning of their game last night with Canberra, the Auckland Tuatara scored nine unanswered runs over the final two innings, with the capper being a three-run homer from 2011 Mount Si HS grad Max Brown, as Auckland stunned Canberra 10-6 in the Australian capital in Aussie Baseball League action.

Brown’s third homer was part of a 3-5 afternoon for the North Bender, who scored two runs and drove in four more seeing his average pop to a solid .272 on the season for the 8-17 Tuatara, who finish their series tomorrow with Canberra in Canberra.

Glory fall in battle of top teams in Australia women’s league: First-place Melbourne Victory beat the Perth Glory FC women 2-1 last night in a battle of two of the top teams in Australia’s W-League women’s pro soccer league, handing Perth their first loss of the season. North Bend’s Nikki Stanton was on the pitch for Perth in this one, and the 2008 Mount Si HS grad worked the full 90 minutes with no stats of note for Perth, who play again after the start of the new year. They are now 3-1-4 (wins-losses-ties) on the season and in third with 13 points after Brisbane leapfrogged them for second in the standings with a 1-1 tie with Canberra United, also last night. That team will next play Perth January 3.

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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