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Newman, Falcons get gut check against Friday Harbor
Hayley Newman played as hard as she could, until her body reached its limit in a 41-35 loss to Friday Harbor.
Newman, a Falcon junior forward, hit two free throws to tie the game 35-35 with less than two minutes remaining. She dropped back to defend in a full-court press near the center court line. She felt sick, and then things got worse.
“I played so hard I puked my guts out,” Newman said.
Still, the Falcon starter wanted to stay in the game.
“I didn’t want to say anything. I didn’t want to come out,” Newman said.
The referees called a medical timeout to clean the court and have Newman checked out.
From there, the Wolverines connected on the free throws that mattered — they finished seven-of-11 in the fourth quarter — and won 41-35 as the Falcons turned the ball over twice in the final 1:49.
“They would break the press and we couldn’t stop them,” Newman said. “Our defense needs to be better.”
South Whidbey trailed much of the game, including 19-15 at halftime.
By the end of the third quarter, the Falcons were down 32-19 with only 8 minutes left and a struggling offense.
“We were trying to take better shots toward the end of the game,” said Falcon senior forward Jessica Manca.
Behind a full-court press defense, the Falcons cut the Wolverines’ lead in the fourth quarter to tie at 35-35. Newman and Manca trapped the inbound and ball handler, forced turnovers and made free throws.
“Our full-court press was effective this game,” said Manca, also a Falcon co-captain. “It’s a lot to keep going because you’re defending so much more of the court. That’s the reason we had a chance to get back in the game.”
“We just stopped taking care of the ball. It wasn’t that our effort wasn’t there; we went out swinging,” Manca added.
Friday Harbor’s free throws and South Whidbey’s late turnovers sealed the Wolverines’ victory at home.
South Whidbey was led by Manca with 11 points.
“I got some rebounds I needed and hit a couple of nice three-pointers,” Manca said. “Unfortunately, I missed some of the last free throws.”
Newman finished with nine, and also picked up a new nickname from her teammates: Chuck.
Despite losing, the team’s leaders were confident heading into conference competition this week.
“I think we have a much better chance than we did last year,” Manca said.
South Whidbey was 0-2 overall leading into its first Cascade Conference game against Lakewood at home Tuesday night.
Lakewood had struggled to score in its first two games, losing 36-23 to La Conner and 57-9 to Burlington-Edison.
For South Whidbey, losing to Friday Harbor showed Manca the team is coming together and learning plays.
This season, the Falcon girls basketball squad hopes for big improvements over its 1-13 conference record from last year.
“I feel like this was our first game as a team; that we all came together and worked together as a team,” Manca said. “We were encouraging each other to play as hard as we could.”
“Last year, we didn’t have a very good record,” she said. “This year, everyone really wants to have a good record. We definitely have improved a lot from last year.”
The three-hour trip to Friday Harbor took its toll on Newman. The drive from the Langley campus to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal took about 90 minutes, the ferry ride lasted more than one hour and the trip ended with another bus ride.
“I hate being in the car, so that was a long, rough bus ride for me,” Newman said.
South Whidbey hosts the Granite Falls Tigers at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9.
Granite Falls is 2-1 overall and beat Interlake 60-48 and Cedar Park Christian 53-42. The Tigers’ only loss was against the Bellingham Red Raiders, 61-49.
Scott Rasmussen, Editor of the Journal of the San Juan Islands, contributed to this story.