Falcon boys are third in tourney

"After flunking opening test, Falcons ace make-up examGood morning class.Today’s assignment is to compare and contrast the South Whidbey boys basketball team’s two games this season against the Coupeville Wolves. If you said it was all about contrast, give yourself an “A”. That’s because, kids, there was simply no comparison.After having been nearly blown out of the gym in a 73-59 loss in the season opener against the Wolves in early December, the Falcons looked unsure, uncertain and pretty much unable to stop their rivals from up the road from scoring.Flash forward to last Thursday’s game for third place in the Falcon Classic tournament at Erikson Gymnasium. Holding the Wolves scoreless for the game’s first 4 1/2 minutes, South Whidbey pretty much squeezed the offense right out of Coupeville on the way to a stunning 48-34 win.“Obviously, we’ve improved,” said Falcon coach Brian Kissinger after watching his first team hold an opponent to less than 40 points for the second time in the last three games. “And we have more improving to do. I’m really thrilled that they’ve caught on this quick. It’s beyond my wildest dreams that we are playing defense like we are right now.”From the beginning, the Falcons, now 2-6 for the year, forced the up-tempo Wolves to work at a more deliberate pace. “I don’t think that they really want to play slow,” Kissinger said. “I sensed a lot of frustration.”Probably the most frustrated player for the Wolves was senior point guard Ty Blouin, who lit the Falcons up for 19 points the first time the two teams met. Thursday he poured in a grand total of two points, thanks in part to tough defense by his backcourt counterpart, Lai Saephan. “He (Blouin) made us look bad the first game,” Kissinger said. “But we pretty much stopped him this time.”Saephan, who leads South Whidbey in scoring with 12.6 points per game, matched his average with 12 points against the Wolves, including a 6-for-6 performance from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. In fact, the Falcons scored their last 12 points from the foul line, winding up 15-for-19 for the game. They also turned in their best shooting performance from the field this year, canning 45 percent of their attempts (15-for-33), while harassing Coupeville into a 29 percent field-goal effort (12-for-41). Six-foot-four senior Ben Priest had a game-high eight rebounds and six points while Josh Nehf added five boards and nine points. Brian Moote also had nine points while sophomore Colin Murphy, who scored six points, was selected to the All-tournament team, an award based as much on hustle and heart as on glittering statistics.Another element in the Falcons’ success was Kissinger’s “Stand for the Defense,” where South Whidbey fans are asked to stand up and clap until the opposition scores its first basket. Much to Kissinger’s delight, Coupeville didn’t hit its first shot until the 3:21 mark of the opening period.“I just think that it’s great. If they see the guys playing hard it keeps the crowd enthusiastic. And when the crowd is enthusiastic, it keeps the guys playing hard,” said Kissinger. “I just wish more people would stand up.”Falcon supporters will get their next chance to rise and cheer Friday, when Meridian comes to town for a North Cascade Conference game beginning at 7:30.Lynnwood defeated Lakeside 51-44 in the championship game.Box ScoreCoupeville 5 11 10 8 – 34South Whidbey 8 14 10 16 – 48Scoring: Saephan 12, Moote 9, Nehf 9, Priest 6, Murphy 6, Levine 3, Gabelein 2, Watson 1."

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