Denied! Cary hands Lakewood boys a last-minute loss

Lakewood’s hot hand met South Whidbey’s sultan of swat.

Ben Cary defended Tre Haslom, Lakewood’s leading scorer all night. With 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Haslom had the ball behind the arc. With seven seconds on the shot clock, he elevated for a three-pointer to send the game into overtime and Cary met him there to block his shot for a 56-53 South Whidbey victory.

“[Cary’s] tall, long and quick—a very smart defensive player,” said Falcon head coach Henry Pope. “With his height and plus those long arms, he’s a heck of a shot blocker.”

“That’s Ben’s forte — defense on the perimeter,” Pope said.

Cary, South Whidbey’s senior co-captain, held Haslom to 14 points (four points were on consecutive free throws from technical fouls issued to Falcon senior guard Riley Newman and the South Whidbey bench). Haslom’s season average is 20.9 points per game and he has a team-high 314 total points.

The previous meeting between Lakewood and South Whidbey in Langley resulted in a 14-point Falcon win. Senior point guard TJ Russell was assigned to defend Haslom that night and limited Lakewood’s best scorer to 13 points before he fouled out.

“We just wanted to give TJ a break,” Pope said of the defensive switch.

South Whidbey prefers to score more than 60 points, according to Pope, and for good reason. The Falcons are 6-3 when scoring less than 60 points and 6-0 when scoring more.

Both teams found themselves at the free-throw line throughout the night.

“The officiating was pretty tough,” Pope said.

Lakewood attempted 12 free throws and made 9. South Whidbey made 8-of-11 free throws.

Russell made 2 free throws in the final minute and finished 3-of-4 in free throws with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals.

“The last three minutes of the game, TJ really stepped up,” Pope said.

In the fourth quarter, South Whidbey used Newman as a decoy, allowing senior Sean George to hit two shots that helped South Whidbey gain and keep its lead. George finished with 10 points.

Newman, the reigning Cascade Conference most valuable player, scored 19 points and added 2 assists and 2 rebounds. His average is 24.8 points per game.

“Riley had to work hard for those 19 points,” Pope said. “He was playing very, very physical away from the ball and with the ball.”

Falcon junior forward Zach Comfort made his first varsity start this season in place of senior Tyler “Chuck” Norris. Norris injured his hand in practice last week, and Pope chose

to play him for about half the game. Comfort scored 6 points and grabbed 7 rebounds.

“It was nice to see somebody else step up when Riley was having a tough night,” Pope said of his team’s scoring.

Cedarcrest’s win against Archbishop Murphy bumped South Whidbey into sole possession of first place, with the Red Wolves and Wildcats tied for second.

Before the Falcons can focus on the rematches at Cedarcrest and Archbishop Murphy next week, they host Whidbey Island rival Coupeville (2-7; 3-11).

“We throw the records out the window when we play Coupeville,” Pope said.

Junior guard Harrison Price is out for the season. Andrew Holt is expected to be brought up from junior varsity to restock the wing position.

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