Totems girls basketball team nearly completes comeback against Islanders

The Sammamish Totems girls basketball team dominated the fourth quarter against Mercer Island.

Sammamish, who trailed Mercer Island by 12 points at the end of the third period, cut Mercer Island’s lead to 37-35 on a lay-up by Totems’ sophomore Katelyn Nagel with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter.

It was the closest the Totems would get.

Mercer Island senior guard Claire Mansfield knocked down a three-pointer as the shot clock expired, extending Mercer Island’s lead to 40-35 against Sammamish with 42 seconds left in regulation. Both teams didn’t score in the final 42 seconds of the contest and the Islanders escaped with a 40-35 victory on Jan. 10 at Mercer Island High School. Sammamish dropped to 3-9 overall with the loss.

Mercer Island girls basketball head coach Gillian d’Hondt wasn’t surprised Mansfield knocked down a crucial shot in crunch time.

“Claire is a poised player,” d’Hondt said. “She is just coming back from an injury and she really hadn’t played all season. For her to knock down a couple of shots today was huge. I’m just really proud of her for playing the whole game and fighting through. She brings that basketball IQ and poise that we need.”

Sammamish head coach Anna Forge said her team has had the tendency to have stagnant third quarters throughout the 2017-18 season.

“It has been a problem that has plagued us and sure enough we came out and lost the third quarter (Mercer Island outscored Sammamish 11-6),” Forge said. “We knew we had a big deficit (12 points) to come back from in the fourth. The biggest thing about these kids is that they’ve always displayed that they have the fight in them. They believe in themselves, which is awesome. It is something you can’t teach.”

The Totems outscored the Islanders 11-1 in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter until Mansfield knocked down the clutch three-pointer for Mercer Island with 42 seconds remaining in the contest.

“They gritted their teeth, put their head down and they grinded until they got back in the game,” Forge said of her resilient squad. “It was within reach. Overall, we’ve been overcoming deficits all season. We are a super young team and we fight. That was the No. 1 thing that has kept us in every game this season, which is our perseverance.”

Nagel scored a team-high 13 points in the loss for the Totems. Totems’ freshman Antoinette Stubbfield added 12 points as well.

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