Mercer Island, after a 5-15 season last year, earned a spot in the quarterfinals and a trip to Tacoma by beating Everett 57-44.
SNOHOMISH — Mercer Island probably had no business setting the goal. Getting back to the Tacoma Dome and the Class 3A state tournament should have been the furthest thing from the Islanders’ minds after they went 5-15 a year ago.
It pays to dream big.
Unranked Mercer Island completed its goal on Friday night at Glacier Peak High School, pulling away from No. 7 Everett for a 57-44 regional girls basketball playoff victory.
The eight-team state tournament opens Thursday in Tacoma.
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“They set that as our goal right from the start,” first-year Mercer Island coach Kaela Yuen said. “It was a huge goal, considering our record last year. But they never let go of that goal.”
To get it done in their third elimination game of this postseason, the Islanders had to find a way to shut down the Seagulls’ dynamic duo, Sydney and Darien Rielly. The sisters had carried Everett (13-11) through the playoffs to a district title.
Darien carried the load as Everett built a 28-22 halftime lead, scoring 10 points in the second quarter. Her sister Sydney, meanwhile, was having a frustrating night against Mercer Island defender Kris Brackmann.
Brackmann held Sydney Rielly to 15 points — eight below her average — and just six in the first half.
“I always look forward to playing their best player,” said Brackmann, who also is the Islanders leading scorer at 13.4 points per game. She had a team-high 17 against Everett.
“She had a job,” Yuen said of Brackmann. “At the beginning of the season, we didn’t know if she could take the toughest defensive assignment.”
“I figure if I play good defense, my offense will come to me,” Brackmann said.
Mercer Island scored the first nine points of the third quarter to take a 31-28 lead and didn’t trail again.
“It’s such a mental thing, especially after we went 5-15 last year,” Brackmann said. “But we’ve exponentially improved. We’ve definitely peaked at the right time.”
Glacier Peak 47,
The No. 8 Grizzlies (18-6), wearing dark visitors’ uniforms on their home court, advanced to the Tacoma Dome for the second time in three seasons.
Glacier Peak led it 28-24 with 5:40 to go in the third quarter after Hannah Calvert made a three-pointer for the No. 9 Hornets, her only points of the game.
The Grizzlies responded with an 8-0 run, including three straight three-pointers, and took a 39-26 lead into the fourth quarter.
Julia Myers scored 19 for Enumclaw (19-7) before fouling out with 1:36 to play.