Falcons fall to Lynden 58-51

"Falcons play tonightSouth Whidbey's girls play a must-win game tonight in Mount Vernon when they take on Nisqually League champion Eatonville. If the Falcons win, they will be guaranteed a slot in the state tournament, and will probably play Nooksack Valley Saturday for third place in the district. Tonight's game starts at 6:30 p.m. at Mount Vernon High School.Photo: Kelsey Ellis shoots one of South Whidbey's early field goals against Lynden Christian. She made 16 points on the night.Matt Johnson / staff photo.If it were legal to defend against free throws in high school girls basketball, South Whidbey might well be on its way to a district title game.As the rules are written, however, the Falcons had to watch Lynden Christian players sink 25 of 33 free throw attempts Monday night at Mount Vernon High School, as well as sink their chances of being Bi-district 12 champions.South Whidbey lost the district tournament contest 58-51, and found that the third time is not a charm against the state's top-ranked, undefeated AA team.As suggested by the Lyncs' free throw production, the Falcons had foul trouble aplenty in the game, which was the third matchup between the two teams this year. It did not start out that way, as the Falcons got on top 6-4 in the opening minutes. Senior guard Kelsey Ellis opened this game as she did in Wednesday's win against Port Townsend, breaking out of the defense to lay in the game's first two points. Neither team could claim a clear advantage in the quarter, and the Lyncs could carve out only an 11-10 lead after eight minutes. The quarter break was clearly a good one for the Falcons. Led by sophomore Hilary Wick, South Whidbey went on a 6-0 run to go up 16-11 at 90 seconds into the quarter. A minute later, the Falcons were still sitting atop a five-point lead at 18-13 when the officials started blowing their whistles, over and over again. Wick and senior Sierra Tornga were their favorite targets, and had to switch places repeatedly on the bench to avoid fouling out. Their coach, Nancy Ricketts, was not pleased to see the referees' attention so focused on her players.I though the reffing was inconsistent, Ricketts said.The resulting free throws put the Lyncs in the driver's seat by halftime and they took a 25-20 lead.The first few minutes of the second half were as unkind to Falcons as the end of the first. The Lyncs put seven points on the board in short order, while holding the Falcons to just four. Up by as much as 14, the Lyncs seemed poised to blow the top off the game. Sierra Tornga, however, would have none of it. With three minutes to go in the quarter, Tornga lit up the scoreboard on her own, hitting three buckets inside a minute and bringing the Falcons to within eight.But in the fourth quarter, South Whidbey fell victim to continuing foul trouble and the Lyncs' free throwing ability. While the Falcon defense had pressed and manned the Lync's top scorer, Tessa DeBoer, to a scoreless performance from the field, she had her revenge in the fourth quarter, nailing five of seven straight Lync free throws late in the game on her way to 14 free throw points. Although Kelsey Ellis responded with 10 of her own points in the quarter, the difference was too great for the Falcons to make up.Coach Ricketts said her troops played the best game they could, but there's no looking back. They now must turn their attention to Wednesday's crucial game against Eatonville. BOX SCOREFalcon girls basketballS. Whidbey 10 10 12 19 -- 51L. Christian 11 14 16 17 -- 58Scoring: Ellis 16, Gabelein 11, Wick 10, tornga 6, Waterman 4, Sievers 4"

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