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Boys hang on to win third straight

"“Running Arizona” pays big dividends Having watched an 11-point margin shrink to only one over the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, first-year South Whidbey boys basketball coach Brian Kissinger decided his team needed a change. Since the Falcons weren’t scoring when they tried to against the Granite Falls Tigers Tuesday, he’d see if they could score when they weren’t trying to. So he ordered them into a delay game. And less became more as the Falcons pulled out a 56-51 North Cascades Conference road win to extend their winning streak to three straight. The victory raises their league record to 3-3 and gives them an overall mark of 4-6, surpassing the win total from last year’s 3-17 team. After an 8-0 run by Granite Falls cut the score from 52-43 to 52-51 with two minutes remaining, the Falcons went to their delay game, known as the “Arizona” offense. South Whidbey ran off more than a minute of time before Granite Falls committed enough fouls to send Josh Nehf to the line for a one-and-one. Nehf, the hero in the Falcons’ big win over Meridian last Friday, sank both shots to make it 54-51. While scrambling to find an open three-point shot to potentially tie the game, the Tigers Buddy Krom missed his desperate attempt but managed to draw a questionable foul and went to the free throw line for three shots with 27 seconds to play. “It was one of those things that you see on ESPN all the time, where the guy leans into the defender hoping to get a foul,” said Kissinger. “They never call it.” Well, almost never. But in a case perhaps of poetic justice, Krom clanked the first two shots and, forced to deliberately miss the third, failed to hit the rim, giving the ball to the Falcons. Fouled with two seconds to go, Lai Saephan closed out the scoring with a pair of free throws. “We did a fantastic job of running Arizona,” Kissinger said. “We just did a really nice job of executing it.” Perhaps even more fantastic was the defensive job Jamie Watson did on Krom, who came into the game as the Tigers’ leading scorer and left with just two points total to show for his night’s work. “I was really proud of our defense,” said Kissinger. One player who was easy on Kissinger’s eyes was the Falcons’ Daniel Levine. The 6-4 senior scored a game-high 19 points, including three three-point goals in the first quarter. “They put a 6-5 guy on him (Levine) and when he got the ball up high he’d just drive and the kid wasn’t quick enough to do anything about it,” said Kissinger. Saephan, who also had three treys, wound up with 13 points while Brian Moote also reached double figures with 12. “We basically controlled the game until the fourth quarter,” Kissinger said. “It’s really a shame that it had to come down to the end like it did. The basketball gods are really testing us.” The Falcons played on the road again Friday against last-place Mt. Baker. Box scoreS. Whidbey 17 13 18 6 – 56Granite Falls 10 17 12 12 – 51Scoring: Levine 19, Saephan 13, Moote 12, Nehf 7, Watson 5. "

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