Falcon girls hold off Meridian rally

"Thanks to some clutch free-throw shooting by senior Sierra Tornga, the South Whidbey Falcons escaped from Meridian with a victory Friday night.“They’re a pretty good team,” said Falcon coach Nancy Ricketts, commending the oppositon. But not good enough to keep the tenacious visitors from Whidbey Island from improving their league record to 4-2. Meridian fell to 3-3.The Falcons were shorter than the towering hosts, who sported a front line of a 6-foot, 3-inch center and a pair of 6-foot forwards. But the Falcons overcame that advantage with quickness. Guard Kelsey Ellis flashed past the defenders and also connected from outside, scoring 22 for the night.South Whidbey maintained a slight scoreboard advantage for three-and-a-half quarters until the Falcon shooters suddenly went cold and Meridian got hot. A seven-point lead evaporated until the score was tied 48-48 with only 18 seconds left.Ricketts called time out and told her team to go for the last shot. With six seconds left the ball went to Tornga, who went up for two from the center of the key. “She stepped, dribbled, and was hammered,” Ricketts recounted. The shot missed, but she earned two free throw opportunities.With the game literally on the line, Tornga toed the line to settle the contest. “Sierra’s a real competitor,” Ricketts said, adding that she never doubted the shots would drop. “She sealed the victory.” Both shots were good, and Meridian’s desperation last-second attempt to tie it failed.Tornga wasn’t the only contributor from the charity strip. The Falcons as a team went 9-for-12 from the line in the crucial waning minutes.The game opened with South Whidbey taking an early lead thanks to two quick buckets from center Hilary Wick and a three-point shot from all-league guard Ellis. A pressure defense produced a bushel of steals by Lindsay Sievers and Ellis.Merdian closed the gap only to see it widen again when Falcon Daylene Watermman scored six third quarter points. Meanwhile, center Hilary Wick held Meridian’s normally-dominating center to zero third quarter points, and only 15 for the evening.“They were a lot taller, but we were a lot quicker,” said Ricketts.The win kept South Whidbey firmly in second place in the tough North Cascades AA league. Tuesday night they hosted cellar-dweller Granite Falls. Friday they’re at home again, this time against Mount Baker.Box scoreSouth Whidbey 15 9 13 13 -- 50Meridian 9 10 14 15 -- 48Points: Lindsay Sievers 4, Daylene Waterman 8, Kelsey Ellis 22, Sierra Tornga 8, Hilary Wick 8Rebounds: Tornga 10, Ellis 6Assists: Sievers 5Steals: Ellis 6, Sievers 5"

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