Young Falcon hoopsters hope hard work will pay off

"This week, the plastic wrap came off an all-new boys basketball team at South Whidbey High School.From the coach to the varsity lineup to the playing strategy, everything about the 2000-2001 Falcons is different than last year.Back on the court this weekend, the Falcons have no returning starters from last season's team and are led by their fourth head coach in four years. Even the players look new, with only four seniors on the 34-member squad.None of this is bad. In fact, it's all good. After grinding through a disappointing 5-14 season last year, the team seemed ready for change. New coach Andy Davis, an 11-year coaching veteran, said this week that he has a gymnasium full of kids who love the game of basketball and who are willing to work hard to make a name for the team. For the past three weeks, that hard work has been done in two-hour practices filled with almost constant drilling, running and shooting. With Davis running the show, there was no time for fooling around, talking about the school day, or sitting down. There was only time for basketball.I want the other team to notice how hard we work, Davis said Thursday. We want to outwork other teams.The Falcons have little choice, since they are one of the physically smaller teams in the North Cascades Conference this year. Junior Forward Timmy Gabelein is the biggest varsity player at 6 feet 4 inches. The remainder of the varsity team is under 6-2.We're not real big, Davis said. But the Falcons are fast. Cross country standouts Brett Perkins and Brandon Turner could well run circles around any team all night, as could sophomore Tim Gathings, who was the fastest runner in baseline drills during the pre-season. That speed will give the Falcons the punch they need to score against the NCC's biggest teams. There are some kids who can run out there, Davis said. Short on varsity experience -- senior Josh Nehf is the only Falcon who played a significant number of varsity minutes last season -- the Falcons are starting with a clean slate on offense and defense. The team has more depth than last year and can call on a number of talented junior varsity players to spell its starters, players such as Josh Coleman, Chuck Applebee, Nick Frenny and Brian Wenker. And it has proven boardmen on the varsity team. Seniors Brian Gabelein and Nick Helland and junior George Spivikov all put in a full season on the junior varsity team last season.The team will get plenty of valuable varsity action soon enough. They play tonight at home against Bellevue Christian, and will wind up playing five games in the first seven days of the season. Davis said his players' eyes are wide open to what they will need to do in the upcoming efforts after the team had two rough 10 minute outings against 4A Kamiak and Mariner in a jamboree last week. Now it is up to him and his assistant coaches, John Kipling and Paul Arand, to get the Falcons ready for a season of 2A action.The Falcons play their first home game in South Whidbey High School's Erikson Gymnasium tonight at 8 p.m. against Bellevue Christian. The junior varsity squad plays Bellevue Christian at 4:30 p.m. "

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