Lakewood’s fourth-quarter rally stifles Falcon girls

Hayley Newman curls the perimeter as she tries to get free of Lakewood senior Jordan Wessell. Newman scored a game-high 12 points in a 41-35 loss for the Falcons. - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Hayley Newman curls the perimeter as she tries to get free of Lakewood senior Jordan Wessell. Newman scored a game-high 12 points in a 41-35 loss for the Falcons.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

The Falcons won the battle of the boards, but Lakewood left with the victory in a come-from-behind win in girls basketball this week.

South Whidbey led 19-18 at halftime and looked poised to win its second conference game of the season. Lakewood and South Whidbey (1-8 in conference; 1-11 overall) traded baskets, and neither team led by more than six points.

The Cougars (3-6; 4-10) came back in the final quarter to beat the Falcons at Erikson Gymnasium, 41-35.

“When you’re learning how to win, you’ve got to go through the growing pains of figuring out how to finish off games,” said Falcon head coach Andy Davis. “And that’s what we went through tonight.”

Despite Falcon co-captain Makenzie Peterson on the bench with three fouls 59 seconds into the second quarter, South Whidbey looked to take a three-point lead into halftime. Sophomore Hayley Newman scored two of her game-high 12 points on a 10-foot jumpshot on the inbound pass to lead 19-16.

“Today, he told me that I could, like, look to shoot more,” Newman said, recalling her coach’s advice.

Then, Cougar junior captain Kaylee Diggs hit 2-of-2 free throws to close the gap, and Newman missed a last-second shot as the halftime buzzer sounded.

After struggling to rebound all season, the Falcons did not allow Lakewood any offensive rebounds in the first half and won the war beneath the boards, 38-26.

“Lacy and Annalies, Jessica and Hayley, they all got a bunch of rebounds,” Davis said. “They just battled. And that transferred from our practices this week.”

Williams and Manca both had 7 rebounds. Newman, Peterson and Brittany Wood had 5 rebounds each.

Lakewood jumped out to an early lead on Jordan Wessell’s three-pointer in the third quarter, 21-19.

Ellie Greene hit a mid-range pull-up shot for the Falcons to tie the game at 21-21. Newman stole the ball and Jessica Manca was fouled on a layup attempt. After hitting 1-of-2 free throws to give South Whidbey the lead, the momentum swung to Lakewood. Cougar senior co-captain Kayley Mizell answered with another layup to go ahead, 23-22, a shot that sparked a 7-0 run.

Newman broke the run with a three-pointer, then Lacy Williams blocked Diggs’ shot that led to Manca’s three-pointer to tie the score 28-28 going into the fourth quarter.

Williams struck first in the final quarter on a putback for the 30-28 lead. Diggs then hit a jumper from the corner of the key and Ashley Orr made a layup to put Lakewood in front, 32-30.

After a timeout, Manca was fouled on a layup attempt, but missed both free throws. Newman scored on a floater and Lakewood’s Wessell answered with another three-pointer and the Cougars reclaimed the lead, 35-32.

Newman drove for a layup to cut the gap to 37-34. Manca smothered Diggs on the defensive end, which led to Newman being fouled and sent to the line for 1-of-2 free throws. Then South Whidbey’s offense sputtered and its full-court defense gave up long inbounds plays.

“It’s pretty frustrating because we’ve only won one conference game,” Newman said. “And it’s like, every time we’re close, people don’t try as hard, even though we’re so close.”

Earlier in the week, the Falcons practiced rebounding drills with two teams and the losing team running lines. Davis’ rebounding drills worked against Lakewood, even if the offense didn’t.

Newman explained the difference between rebounding in practice and scoring in the game: “Once we got a rebound we just couldn’t put it back up.”

South Whidbey struggled against Lakewood’s disciplined front court duo of Mizell and Diggs. Mizell scored 11 points and Diggs had 10. Neither of the Falcon forwards (Annalies Schuster and Lacy Williams) could gain position against, or South Whidbey’s guards drive against, the larger Lakewood posts.

“Me and Jess [Manca] just have to shoot three pointers and shoot up top, and it’s a lot harder since we’re guarded most of the time,” Newman said. “But it’s what we have to do to try and score.”

Davis managed his team’s fouls well. South Whidbey had seven team fouls in the first quarter, but finished the first half without putting Lakewood into the double free throw bonus. Fouls were a disastrous part of his team’s game against Sultan earlier in the week, as the Turks made 23-of-36 free throws against South Whidbey’s 4-of-8.

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