Another round of Friday previews and picks for you….Red Wolves vs. Tomahawks and Wildcats vs. Wolves with more than a game on the line

Good Friday morning. A note this morning for you Cedarcrest High School girls’ basketball fans. As you probably know, the Red Wolves fell last night to Stanwood. So you know, the game recap from last night is part of this morning’s Cedarcrest game preview looking at tonight’s game at Marysville-Pilchuck, one of four games we’re taking a look at this morning on another busy Friday night of Valley high school hoops. It’s a night to put things in perspective for Mount Si’s boys and girls as they not only play for themselves, but for their fellow student Ryan Gerlitz as the Wildcats host Eastlake, while up north, it’s the Red Wolves and Tomahawks with the girls in Marysville and the boys at home in Duvall. Girls lead off as normal here and let’s get rolling.

GIRLS
Mount Si Wildcats vs. Eastlake Wolves, Mount Si HS, 6:30, YouTube (in our news links at right)– The two teams met already once this season, with the Kingco-leading (and undefeated in league) Wolves winning that game. But things are a lot different now, especially on the Mount Si side. Junior starters Nitika Kumar and Izzy Smith both are done for the season with knee injuries, and that has forced other players to step up. And they have.

We’ll talk specifically here about freshman Lauren Glazier and junior Carly Britton. Glazier – with her solid offense, in which she scored 14 points – and Britton – with her defense – were big keys for Mount Si in their win over Bothell Wednesday. Coach Jason Marr has been complimentary of Glazier. “Having Lauren has been a nice blessing,” Marr told us after the game Wednesday. “She has size and she can shoot.”

At the moment, Glazier’s only averaging four points a game, but if she and Britton can continue to deliver the same kind of effort they did on Wednesday offensively and defensively respectively, we suspect the Wildcats will be able to weather the losses of Kumar and Smith. Their losses take almost 20 points a night out of the lineup so it’s up to others to have to shoulder that load, and Glazier and Britton are most certainly doing their part. Gwen Aasland also had a good game Wednesday in the 59-33 win over the Cougars, with eight points and nine rebounds, so she’ll look to do that again tonight.

Sela Heide had 14 points as well for Mount Si Wednesday in her first game following a scare in last Saturday’s Wildcat win over Skyline; she missed most of the late stages of the contest nursing an ankle injury, which proved to be not significant and she played the full way Wednesday and her ankle did not look worse for wear. Heide should be 100% tonight for Mount Si, which will be important because Eastlake established itself as the favorite for the league title with a win over fellow top-dog Woodinville on Wednesday.

Coach Sara Goldie’s crew is 11-3 on the season and their scoring attack is deep. Junior Keeli Burton is leading the way, averaging 17 points and 12 rebounds a night, so the Heide/Aasland duo will be seeing a lot of her in the paint. They most certainly did in the game the two teams played at Eastlake December 11; Burton had 17 points and 18 rebounds in the 53-50 Wolves win. The two Mount Si posts should expect to see a lot of senior Mae Bryant as well; she is averaging 12 points and 13 rebounds a game. Bryant also double-doubled that night with 13 points and 17 boards.

Also watch senior Callie Lind, who scored 20 points in the Eastlake win last time out against the Wildcats and is averaging around 11 a game.

But the big factor tonight for both teams will be mental focus and emotional readiness. Eastlake is coming off perhaps their biggest win of the season on Wednesday, so the potential of a so-called “emotional letdown” performance is very much possible, and you add that in to what is expected to be an emotional Mount Si gymnasium tonight as the girls help in the efforts the Wildcat boys’ hoops squad is doing for fellow student Ryan Gerlitz, which we’ll talk about in the boys’ preview in a moment, and this could be one of those games that could really go either way. On paper, we like Eastlake, but you know, Goldie’s going to have to tell her ladies to be ready for anything and not rest on their laurels lest Mount Si rise up on their home floor and score their signature win of the season. Eastlake 55, Mount Si 50

Cedarcrest Red Wolves @ Marysville-Pilchuck Tomahawks, Marysville-Pilchuck HS, Marysville, 7:15 – The Red Wolves come in off a tough loss last night to Stanwood at home looking to rebound and get back into the win column.

In last night’s game, Cedarcrest had a 27-22 halftime lead but couldn’t close the deal in a 50-41 loss. “Their inside play was very strong and it resulted in some easy baskets for them. We had a tough shooting night in the second half from everywhere, including the FT line where we shot only 41%, a season low,” coach Brad Knowles told us by email. “We had our chances in the the second half but the ball just wouldn’t drop for us. Rough, physical games like this make us better, it really helps for the playoffs.”

So it’s back to work tonight for the third game in four nights, so fatigue might be a bit of a factor here for this group, but everyone in this conference has had a similar schedule this week, so M-P’s going to be battling it, too. They played last night and were blown out by Meadowdale, who has an identical league (3-3) and overall (8-4) mark to the Red Wolves, so that might be something to think about with this one.

For Cedarcrest, Sidra Griffin led last night’s efforts with 10 points and Ava LaPorte added nine. Different girls have stepped up each game for the Red Wolves leading the way, and that has been a big story this season, especially with the potential season-ending knee injury for star Jaylin Yowell suffered in CHS’ early-season loss to Snohomish. Players such as Cassidy Sweney, Kat Townley and Ava Erhardt have all contributed significantly as this has become a team playing as a team working together to fill the shoes of their fallen star.

Senior Mariah Summers and junior Lauren Lewis are the players to watch for the Tomahawks, who are winless in league at 0-7 and overall are 4-9. And this is where rubber meets the road for Cedarcrest when we talk about postseason.

We of course have been telling you all week about the strong Northwest District 2A RPI computer ranking CHS received to start the week – they were ranked fourth in the initial run of this thing that was released early Monday morning. So that has provided the Red Wolves a nice foundation to work with with respect to A. making the playoffs, and more importantly, B. getting a home game. While last night’s loss might have damaged the ranking a bit, a game like tonight’s – where they’re playing a 3A foe that’s behind them in the standings and is struggling – can serve as a balance and help maintain the strong seeding position.

The way CHS is going, if they’re able to maintain a .500 clip in league the remainder of the way and perhaps pick up an upset or two along the way against a team like Edmonds-Woodway or Shorecrest, both of whom still are left on Cedarcrest’s schedule, they’ll be starting the postseason at home, and boy, will that be nice. We like the Red Wolves to rebound tonight and grab another RPI bonus special to help keep their ranking strong. Cedarcrest 50, M-P 35

BOYS
Cedarcrest Red Wolves vs. Marysville-Pilchuck Tomahawks, Cedarcrest HS, Duvall, 7:15 – CHS, off their loss Wednesday night in Stanwood against the Spartans, faces one of the Wesco’s best tonight in the Tomahawks.

Brennan LeBlanc scored 12 for the Red Wolves in their 70-57 loss to Stanwood, a game that was decided early as the Spartans outscored Cedarcrest 23-9 in the opening eight minutes only to see the Red Wolves play the final 24 neck and neck with Stanwood on the scoresheet. Chris Busch will look to have a strong game again tonight; he was limited to nine points in the loss Wednesday.

M-P is 10-3 and unbeaten in league at 7-0 so this will be a very challenging test for this Cedarcrest crew. But the Stanwood game as we just noted did show that the Red Wolves, if they can play a full 32 minutes, should be competitive against anyone, and this is on Cedarcrest’s home floor, so anything can of course happen. Senior RaeQuan Battle is the player to watch from the Tomahawks.

This will be a challenge tonight for Cedarcrest, but we did just say it here – if they can play a full 32 minutes they’ll definitely give M-P a challenge. As coach Joe Ayers told us after the Stanwood game by email, “I am confident we are better after playing this game (Wednesday)”. His confidence will be put to the test tonight, but we trust it won’t be misplaced even though we like the visitors here. M-P 70, Cedarcrest 62

Mount Si Wildcats vs. Eastlake Wolves, Mount Si HS, Snoqualmie, 8:10* (*Approximate time, game will start around 15-20 minutes after conclusion of girls’ game): This Mount Si program in the past has taken time out to recognize fellow students who are, or have, gone through very difficult challenges. Remember the night Wildcat Caleb Williams made his return to the basketball floor following his lengthy recovery from injuries suffered in a swimming incident along the Snoqualmie River near North Bend several years back? That was quite the emotional night for everyone in the MSHS gym, and we’d expect that to be the case again tonight as this program, and perhaps Eastlake as well if their Twitter feed is any indication, recognizes the fight that Mount Si freshman student Ryan Gerlitz is engaged in right now against an awful disease: cancer.

The two teams met December 11 with Mount Si getting the win that night up at Eastlake 62-47. Jabe Mullins led the way scoring 22 points, with Tyler Patterson and Brett Williams each adding 16. The trio are leading the Wildcats in scoring – Mullins with 20 a game, followed by Patterson with 16 and Williams with almost 10.

Sophomore Casey Jones leads Eastlake, averaging 19 points a game; he scored 27 in their loss to the Wildcats in their last meeting. The Wolves are 3-4 in Crest Division play and 4-9 overall, so this is a must win for them to keep pace for a division title. A win for Mount Si tonight pretty much will put them on the road to lock it up, so this game will be important for postseason as well for the Wildcats. But really, this night will be about something other than basketball.

You may remember Mia Fowler from Mount Si’s girls’ soccer program. Well, she’s graduated now, down in southern California playing for Chapman University, and her dad, Ken, took to Twitter last night with an image of what we’re guessing will be on the T-shirts that are expected to be available tonight at the game to help support Gerlitz’s fight. The image said: “Ryan Strong. His Fight is Our Fight.” Well, this Wildcat boys’ basketball program tonight will be giving the community a chance to make it so. And based on the reactions we’ve seen on social media the past 48 hours, largely fueled by our efforts, we suspect that that is the case.

We, as you know, have received numerous likes from Mount Si students and others in the community, and several former MSHS athletes, including former Wildcat boys’ hoopster Jesiah Irish, retweeted Fowler’s tweet on their feeds last night. And KOMO’s Mike Ferreri also was among the re-tweeters, too, and his retweet was picked up by Eastlake’s team Twitter as well, so perhaps the Wolves will be doing something special for Ryan as well, we shall see.

The evening will be full of opportunities for the community to help support Gerlitz and his family. In addition to the T-shirts, the wristbands we talked about yesterday in our girls’ game story (go to our Twitter @snovalleysports for more on those) should also be available, and it is our understanding the family will be making a statement as well about the continuing battle.

As many of you know, Gerlitz is an athlete; we’ve featured his exploits here in the past as part of our youth baseball coverage. But he also plays basketball as well, as was mentioned to us the other night postgame by Mullins, and ostensibly if Gerlitz was healthy he would probably be part of this Wildcat program this season. But, that, of course, sadly is not the case. Even so, Mount Si’s program has been working hard to spread the word about Gerlitz’s battle, and we have been honored to help in that the past couple of days. And this Valley, like we all know it can, has galvanized behind him and his family. The image was right. His fight is our fight. We’re all in this together and we have your back, Ryan. Every step of this way, young man. Mount Si we like to get the win, but you know, we have a bonus pick, too. And another message for Ryan.

Ryan, as we mentioned on Twitter yesterday, we know that this fight has probably been challenging for you thus far and we guess that it’s going to get much tougher before it gets better. But Mr. Fowler, in his Tweet last night, had this to say. “(Ryan) has the support of world class doctors, family and friends.” And you know what, he’s absolutely right about that. You and your family are fortunate to be part of a region of the country that has some of the best cancer care around between both the UW and Fred Hutch, where we presume your treatments are taking place. You have a great family, friends and school community at Mount Si helping you along and supporting you. And tonight, you can add an entire Valley community to that list. Including us. Cancer, when this is all said and done, is going to find out the hard way it picked on the wrong kid. Ryan, you’ve got this. #RyanStrong #teamryan

Game: Mount Si 70, Eastlake 55 Bonus: Ryan 1, Cancer 0

Last week: 3-1 (Woodinville girls def. Mount Si, Mount Si boys def. Woodinville and Cedarcrest girls def. Oak Harbor, all correctly picked; Oak Harbor def. Cedarcrest boys, we picked Cedarcrest)
Season: 8-4

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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