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Girls win overtime thriller

"Falcons Julie Robinson, left, and Jackie Gutzmer double team a Blaine player during a home overti e win over Borderites.Matt Johnson, staff reporterBuoyed by 29 total points scored by junior Hilary Wick and senior Melissa Poolman, the South Whidbey High School girls basketball team lived to fight and beat the Blaine Borderites in a 5-minute overtime period Wednesday night, Dec. 13.The 46-44 OT win on the home floor at Erikson Gymnasium was the team's second this year and is more proof that this year's Falcons are best under high pressure. Playing their third North Cascades Conference game of the year, the South Whidbey girls found in the Borderites a perfect match. Similarly sized and both quick, the two teams tried to run down each others' throats from the tipoff. Scoring was at a premium in the first quarter as both teams stayed in single digits. The Falcons had the edge in the early going and carried a 9-6 lead into the second quarter. But that's when Blaine's scorers started getting a better look at the basket. They piled in enough field goals to take the lead by mid-quarter, and threatened to pull away. Falcon coach Nancy Ricketts told her players to tighten their defense. They did, taking away the Borderites' ability to shoot from the field and forcing them to the free-throw line with intentional fouls. Though the Blaine players would eventually go on to score 19 points from the line, Ricketts said taking the fouls was less costly than giving the other team chances to shoot two- and three-pointers.The biggest thing is our team defense, Ricketts said.The strategy worked, and the Falcons started the second half at a slim 23-22 disadvantage. Moving back to the playbook pages for the first quarter, both teams seemed to send only their defenses onto the court for the third quarter. The two teams combined for a meager 12 points, with the Falcons scoring two-thirds of those for a three-point lead at quarter's end.It was not enough to win the game in regulation, however. Scorers from both teams had more success in the final quarter, pushing back into double digits. With 15 seconds remaining, it looked as though South Whidbey might walk away the winner then and there when Hilary Wick sank a field goal to put the Falcons up by two. But Blaine's Anna Stickland answered back with a bucket of her own to send the game into overtime.With only five minutes to get ahead for the win, South Whidbey went back to a tried-and-true plan: They gave Wick the ball on offense and fouled the Borderites on defense. Wick scored four from the field in the period, while Blaine could muster only two points from the line after being smothered by the Falcon defense.Coach Ricketts said it was the perfect end to a tough game.It's important to win these games because of the intensity, she said. They will have that confidence the next time so they can pull together and win and pull it out. "

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