Everyone in the girls’ basketball scene knows of Anna Luce. She is one of the best post players in the state from Mercer Island High School.
But sometimes the KingCo 3A player of the year needs a little help.
And on Thursday in the state quarterfinals, it came from the smallest player on the floor.
Kailee Yan’s big fourth quarter helped break open a tight game, and the No. 4 Islanders upended second-ranked Kamiakin, 52-43, in the Tacoma Dome.
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Yan, a 5-foot-3 senior, scored 10 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter, including two big 3-pointers.
Mercer Island (22-6) is in the Class 3A semifinals for the first time since 2010, and will play Snohomish.
“Our guards, they are scrappy,” Islanders coach Gillian d’Hondt said. “Their defense is really important. I give them a big job face-guarding players and taking them out.”
They needed to, especially after the Braves (23-2) bolted to an 8-0 lead in the first 1:17 behind talented sophomore Oumou Toure, who finished with a game-high 21 points.
Slowly, the Islanders’ defensive pressure behind Yan, Jessie and Jackie Stenberg and Claire Mansfield began picking off the Kamiakin backcourt midway through the third quarter.
And after the game was tied six times in that quarter, Yan’s clutch playmaking took over.
She hit a running 6-footer in the lane to start the fourth quarter to break a 37-37 tie.
Ninety seconds later, she canned a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to push the Islanders’ advantage to 45-39. And 45 seconds after that, she drilled a long jump shot just outside the free throw line.
“I try to look for my shot,” Yan said. “I was pretty off in the first half, but it was nice that my teammates and coaches kept encouraging me to shoot and be aggressive.
“(The shots) dropped in the fourth quarter.”
Luce finished 18 points and 14 rebounds for Mercer Island.