Newman drops 30 in Falcons’ 10th straight win

Riley Newman looks for a shot during the first quarter against the King’s Knights. Newman scored 30 points in South Whidbey’s 61-50 win to extend the Falcons’ win streak 10 games, including six Cascade Conference contests. - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Riley Newman looks for a shot during the first quarter against the King’s Knights. Newman scored 30 points in South Whidbey’s 61-50 win to extend the Falcons’ win streak 10 games, including six Cascade Conference contests.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

The snow was falling and so were Riley Newman’s shots.

South Whidbey’s senior guard scored 30 points against King’s High School on Tuesday as his team notched its 10th straight win, 61-50.

Falcon fans were an unusually sizable group, considering the game was in Shoreline on a night forecast to have snow, and one where Coupeville’s games were canceled under the specter of bad weather.

The Falcon boys basketball team beat the Knights (3-3 conference; 4-5 overall) behind Newman and some crucial plays to close out the Cascade Conference game at Mike Martin Gymnasium.

“It feels good,” said Falcon head coach Henry Pope. “Especially since we came to King’s’ house, and won, when we hadn’t won here in four or five years. I tell you, it’s great.”

Newman set the tone with his first basket. He drove to the hoop from the free throw line, jumped, moved the ball right then left and spun it off the glass for two points — with a smile on his face.

At the start of the second quarter, Newman hit a three-pointer that sparked a nine-point run and gave South Whidbey the lead until midway through the third quarter. The Falcons almost led by double digits at halftime, but Knights sophomore forward Kyle Sawtell made a buzzer-beater jumpshot to bring King’s within nine points.

In the third quarter, the Knights went on a 14-4 run. Newman made the first basket of the second half on a two-point jumper. Then, Sawtell made a layup and hit two free throws. Falcon senior forward Tyler “Chuck” Norris blocked Evan Sabo’s layup, but the loose ball was picked up and put back by Knights senior forward Wilson Doldier. Sabo then hit a three-pointer.

Norris broke up what would have been a 14-2 run with a layup on an interior pass from Sean George.

“We were expecting them to come back and do something in the beginning of the third quarter,” Pope said.

Sawtell made another free throw, but missed on his second shot, then made a spot-up jumper. Then a technical foul was issued to South Whidbey, and Knights junior guard Austin Porcello made both free throws to take the lead, 37-36.

King’s used a press defense and forced South Whidbey into a shot-clock violation. Then the Falcons regrouped, Pope said.

“Once [we] got on the pressure, they just stayed together, worked through it and came out on top,” he said.

The Falcons went on a 9-0 run to retake the lead and keep it. Newman was fouled and made one free throw to tie the game at 37 apiece. Norris took a charge and drew an offensive foul on Knights guard Christian Taylor. George hit two free throws to regain South Whidbey’s lead. Then another foul on Newman gave King’s 10 team fouls and put South Whidbey in the double free throw bonus, with the fourth quarter still to be played.

After junior forward James McCutchen and Sawtell made back-to-back baskets, King’s trailed by four points, 47-43.

Falcon senior Ben Cary sparked a pivotal play early in the quarter after he blocked King’s hot hand in McCutchen, who made two three-point shots in the first quarter. The play allowed South Whidbey to extend its lead to nine points again, after Newman hit his third three-pointer of the night.

“[McCutchen] was their best shooter, and coming in we knew that,” Cary said. “He got me a couple times this game, but I kind of got him on that one. It felt good.”

McCutchen averaged 7.6 points per game coming into the game and finished with 8.

South Whidbey went 11-of-14 in free throw shooting in the fourth quarter, including Cary’s sole-and-final point of the game at 61-50, with 6.7 seconds left. Senior point guard TJ Russell made all four of his free throws in the fourth quarter and finished with 12 points on 7-of-8 free throw shooting.

Norris finished with 8 points and two blocks. Reserve senior forward Austin Bennett had seven points — the only points from South Whidbey’s bench.

The Falcons were picked to finish last in the Cascade Conference. Near the midseason point, South Whidbey is 6-0 in conference play, 10-2 overall, including three wins and a tournament championship at the Seaside Holiday Classic.

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