Mikayla Jones scored 26 of her game-high 28 points in the second half as overcame a halftime deficit to defeat in the 3/4 seed game of the KingCo Tournament Thursday at Bellevue College.
Jones struggled in the first half, scoring just two points, but came alive in the third quarter, scoring 15 in the period as Juanita took control of the game.
"I knew I was playing like crap," Jones said. "Coach (Sam W. Lee) told me at halftime that I sucked and I knew from then on I needed to keep pushing so I went out there and I played my hardest."
Mercer Island was coming off a on Tuesday and looked ready to prove itself in the first half. Jae Shin hit four three-pointers as the Islanders opened up a 32-30 halftime lead.
But once Jones started hitting, Juanita steadily pulled away. The Rebels pushed their lead to 63-49 with 1:19 remaining before Mercer Island staged a mini-rally, getting within seven with 16 seconds remaining before Juanita closed it out.
For the Rebels, it was an appropriate response to a lackluster effort against Liberty on Tuesday. Juanita came out flat in that one and never recovered, which Lee blamed on a lack of energy for his team's sloppy play. Against Mercer Island, the Rebels came out strong and sustained throughout the contest.
"We came out a little more focused, which leads to making shots and making better defensive plays," said Lee, who was also named KingCo coach of the year
The loss sends Mercer Island into the Sea-King district playoffs as the No. 4 seed out of the KingCo conference, while Juanita will be the No. 3 seed. The Islanders will face Metro No. 4 seed Bainbridge High on Bainbridge Island while Juanita entertains Metro No. 6-seed Franklin in Kirkland on Saturday, Feb. 12, times yet-to-be-determined.