Issaquah girls basketball team gives Skyline a scare, then loses

January 29, 2013

By John Leggett

When two squads lock horns in an intense local rivalry, especially when the moon is as full as it was Jan. 25, hovering over Skyline High School like a spotlight, one should always expect the unexpected.

That was exactly the spectacle that those fans assembled in the Skyline gymnasium beheld recently when a feisty 10-4 Issaquah girls basketball bunch invaded the 12-2 Spartans’ fortress and nearly upset the vaunted Skyline cagers on the road, but instead succumbed to the pressure of being the visitor in hostile territory to and eventually lost 48-45.

“We definitely came into their house with a chip on our shoulder,” admitted Issaquah junior dynamo Mandie Hill, who leads the KingCo 4A in scoring, averaging a sweet 16 points per contest.

“We nearly beat them on their own floor, but with all the noise in that place and with them rapidly shaving down our lead in the final couple minutes of the fourth period with that aggressive full court press of theirs, our young team kind of just buckled under the pressure. We learned a valuable lesson though, that won’t happen again,” said Hill, the game’s leading scorer with 20 points.

Up next

Newport at Issaquah

  • Girls: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 1
  • Boys: 8 p.m. Feb. 1
  • Issaquah High School
  • 700 Second Ave. S.E.

As the fierce encounter began to unfold, both squads appeared to have icicles hanging from their digits, and at the conclusion of the first eight minutes of play, Issaquah had a modest 10-6 upper hand.

While Skyline’s band of giants wisely preferred use its overwhelming size to methodically work the pumpkin down low for the easy bucket, Issaquah’s players are renowned for their sharpshooting from outside the arch, so it was just a matter of time before they would be wowing the throng of Eagle rooters on hand with their mortar shots from Sammamish.

Midway through the second frame, Issaquah’s Quincey Gibson decided it was time to get the party started, as she loosed a picturesque three pointer from the top of the key that hit nothing but net to put the Eagles up 15-10.

Hill touched off more fireworks in the initial five seconds of the third stanza, as she electrified the crowd with a bomb from way outside the perimeter and followed that up by stealing the ball, dribbling it coast-to-coast, maneuvering through the paint and making a classic backhanded lay-up. Issaquah appeared to be clicking on all cylinders.

Suddenly, the smooth-running, Issaquah Ferrari morphed into a back-firing clunker though, as halfway through the fourth quarter Skyline began to employ its intimidating, relentless, mistake-creating full court press, and as a consequence, the Spartans rapidly caught up to and passed the purple and gold with some incredible domination on the boards as well.

Skyline’s supremacy under the glass was allowing Issaquah a paltry single shot in the waning moments of the wild finish. One of the Skyline’s six-footers (either Haley Smith, Bryn deVita or Shelby Kassuba) would simply snare the carom and toss the orb to an outlet girl, who would then fly down the parquet for the easy deuce.

With the exception of Smith’s 16 points and Lacey Nicholson’s 12 points, the Skyline scoring was exceedingly balanced as by the end of the game the Spartans were merely beginning to seek out the girl who had the opened look.

In the afterglow of his team’s 12th league triumph of the 2012-13 campaign, Skyline coach Greg Bruns, who appears to be well on his way to guiding the green and pearl to yet another state tournament appearance, confessed that until his girls began to play the full court press in earnest in the later stages of the fray with Issaquah, his girls were on the ropes.

“Hey, Issaquah gave me a few more gray hairs tonight…They had us right where they wanted us. The Eagles were up 38-29 going into the fourth quarter, and if we hadn’t begun to play that suffocating full court press, the way we are capable of, we might have been beaten on our own hardwood tonight. They have some shooters and Issaquah is for real,” lamented Bruns, whose cagers, by virtue of the late wake up call, outscored Issaquah 21-9 in the fourth frame to make it their number 12 league conquest as they build momentum for the impending post-season challenges that lie ahead.

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