The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

Boys Basketball Dominates Juanita in Home Opener

Mercer Island School District

On Monday, Dec. 5, the Mercer Island Boys Basketball team tipped off against Juanita for their first home game of the season. Outscoring the Ravens by almost 30 points, the Islanders improved their record to 2-0 in an action-packed performance.

“The keys have been playing together and just playing fast,” senior captain Nick Mautone said. “We had found a lot of success in the fast break and we’re clearly more conditioned and in better shape than all the teams that we’ve been playing.” 

The constant for the Islanders thus far is simple: score more than your opponent does. On Nov. 28, the boys outpaced 2A KingCo opponent Sammamish with 57 points to the Redhawks’ 38. Against Sammamish, it was Mautone who spearheaded the Islanders’ offensive attack, putting up 23 points to match his jersey number. 

Against Juanita, the Islanders had four players (M. McDonald, W. McDonald, Mautone, Cruzen) scoring double-digit numbers and three others were just shy of joining them. Junior point guard Tristen Cruzen led the scoring this time around with 17 points followed by 12 from fellow junior guard Will McDonald. 

The boys’ first week of basketball initially slated Bellevue on Saturday, Dec. 1. But since the 3A football State championship game between Yelm and Bellevue created a conflict for Wolverines who play football and basketball, the first matchup between the two teams was rescheduled to Jan. 31, becoming the second matchup. Heading into this season’s series against Bellevue, Mautone feels this group is greater than theirs.

“We stack up really well against bigger matchups like Bellevue because Bellevue lost to Liberty,” Mautone said. “They’re clearly showing that against teams they can supposedly handle, they can’t really handle.” 

The Wolverines’ season opener against Liberty was their first loss of the season and a college type of score–80-73. To find the Islanders’  last win against Bellevue, you have to track back to the pandemic in the 2020-21 season, when Mercer Island won in a close 56-54. But now, nearly 950 days later, Mautone and the team feel ready to flip the script. 

“I think they’re going to underestimate us because we’ve been putting in the work,” Mautone said. “They had all the football players out for a while, so I think they’re gonna be very disjointed.” 

Before the team has their first shot at Bellevue, they get to play a diverse set of teams over the next six weeks. The Islanders will start away with two familiar foes, Hazen on Dec. 9 and Interlake on Dec. 12, then they will cap off 2023 in California for five days of competition starting on Dec. 27 at the Tustin Holiday Classic. In the new year, they will face Lake Washington, a team already off to a hot start with a 3-0 record. 

Zooming back into this week, the last takeaway from Mautone is the highly confident mindset he has for the Hazen matchup.

“Our mentality heading into this game against Hazen is kill,” Mautone said. “We’re going to kill them. I want to put 40 [points] on them.”

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