Falcon girls go out as winners

"For three quarters and 24 minutes Tuesday night, South Whidbey High School's girls basketball players ran, jumped and shot against their shadows.South Whidbey and visiting Meridian were almost indistinguishable from one another during the first, second, and fourth quarters in the Falcons' final home game of the season, going toe-to-toe in a ponderous, defense-intensive matchup. The scoring was even. So was the rebounding.But in the third quarter, the Falcons took it to the Trojans 16-7 to gain the nine-point edge they would hold onto for a 48-39 win.Though buoyed by pre-game senior night festivities, the Falcon senior starters had a hard time of it against the Trojans in the early going. Poised just 12 points away from the 1,000-career-point barrier in her final home game as a Falcon, senior Kelsey Ellis was the first victim of Meridian's stonewall defense. Ellis scored 22 in the two teams' last matchup, so the Trojan defenders did everything they could to get in her way. Unable to work her usual penetrating magic on the Trojans' three 6-foot defenders, Ellis dished the ball off to Hilary Wick and Sierra Tornga, who had more success pushing into the lane and under the basket. She finished the game with six points -- six away from the record book.They keyed on Kelsey defensively, said Falcon head coach Nancy Ricketts.The Trojans led 13-10 at the quarter mark and seemed to be on their way toward building a tidy lead to take into half time. But a minute and a half into the second quarter, senior guard Lindsay Sievers tied the game 15-15 on a free throw. With that score, the Trojans never again had a clear advantage. Notching up their offense and defense, the Falcons played the second quarter like a bookend to the first, outscoring Meridian 13-10 to post a 23-23 tie at halftime.With their narrow Jan. 7, 50-48 win over the Trojans undoubtedly on their minds at the start of the second half, the Falcons went after points in the third quarter. With instructions from coach Ricketts to trap the Trojan guards, the Falcons opened up just enough space and time for their scorers to drive to the hoop.Beyond the mechanics of the game, Ricketts said her players simply could not conceive of losing to Meridian.Going into halftime tied, they thought they should be ahead of this team, she said.By the end of the quarter, they were, by a full nine points. And they sat on that lead, shooting field goal for field goal with the Trojans in the fourth quarter. The Falcon defenders shut down every Trojan scorer, except for Jenny Oiness. Oiness scored all nine of the Trojans' points in the final period on her way to a 18 point game.The Falcons end the regular season Tuesday on the road against Nooksack. Going into Friday's night game, the Falcons were 11-2 in league play and 15-2 for the season, and ranked third in the state AA coaches' poll.Box ScoreS. Whidbey 13 10 16 9 -- 48Meridian 13 10 7 9 -- 39Scoring: Wick 12, Tornga 11, Sievers 7, Waterman 6, Ellis 6, Watson 2, Poolman 3."

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