With 1:59 left in regulation, Issaquah Eagles head coach Jackie Bykonen gave one of her favorite players of all time an opportunity to take a curtain call in front of the hometown fans on senior night.
Issaquah senior Luci Stewart, who scored a game-high 20 points in the final regular season home game of her high school career, propelled Issaquah to a convincing 55-23 victory against the Mount Si Wildcats on Jan. 25 in Issaquah. Issaquah improved its overall record to 12-7 with the win while Mount Si dropped to 10-9 overall.
“Luci is probably one of my favorite athletes that I have ever coached. Her attitude and her work ethic is just incredible. She is one of those athletes who just brings it all the time, no matter what kind of day she is having,” Bykonen said. “She always has the same energy and intensity whether it is a practice or a game. She is just a joy to coach. We’re going to miss her a lot.”
The game remained close in the first half of play. Midway through the second quarter, Mount Si senior guard Jenae Usselman, who scored a team-high 10 points in the loss, connected on a 3-pointer, cutting Issaquah’s lead to 21-16.
It was the closest the Wildcats would get to decreasing the Eagles’ lead for the remainder of the game. Issaquah outscored Mount Si 34-7 down the stretch en route to victory. Bykonen said her team’s adjustments in the second quarter made a huge difference down the stretch.
“We tried to pressure them a little bit more in the full court. We just moved the ball better offensively and focused on reversing the basketball. We tried to attack the gaps in their zone (defense),” Bykonen said.
Stewart will never forget her final home game on the hardwood.
“Senior night is something you think about since your freshman year so I’m really glad we got the win tonight. I really love playing basketball, so every game is exciting but this was really special,” Stewart said.
Mount Si Wildcats head coach Jason Marr remained upbeat despite the defeat on the road.
“We had four starters out (due to injuries). The girls battled as hard as they could for as long as they could. I’m proud of them,” Marr said. “There was a couple of shots that if they would had maybe went the other way, it could have been a different scenario. We played hard tonight and played good defensively. We just couldn’t get the offense going.”