Turnovers doom Falcon boys basketball team again

Youth, inexperience, injuries and whatever other reason can be given, has.

Coaches of the South Whidbey boys basketball team know all of the excuses. After a 58-47 loss to Lakewood on Tuesday that had 27 Falcon turnovers, they needed to remind themselves of the reasons, said head coach Henry Pope, and be patient with the team. It was the opening Cascade Conference game of the season and Lakewood improved to 1-0 in conference and 1-2 overall.

“Again, the story was inexperience at certain positions,” Pope said.

“I realized it’s going to take some time for these kids to learn how to play the positions they were put in. I just have to be patient. They’ll get better.”

Through the first half, South Whidbey trailed 27-21. The Falcons attempted to use their size advantage with 6-foot-8 senior forward Zach Comfort, but struggled to find him early as he scored 6 points in the first two quarters.

Similar to the other teams South Whidbey has faced, Lakewood played a press defense to harass and trap the Falcon ball handlers. Falcon senior point guard Sam Lee brought the ball up the court to try and set the offense, only to watch players on the perimeter attempt passes across the key, force it to a double-covered Comfort or throw it away.

“We had times during the game where we were pretty smart with the ball,” Lee said. “Then there were minutes in the second quarter and the third quarter we kind of tossed the ball away.”

Other than Comfort, the Falcons (0-1 Cascade Conference, 1-2 overall) struggled to score consistently. Lee attempted only two field goals and finished with two points.

In the previous two games, Lee scored 11 points in each.

“I don’t know why I didn’t shoot more,” Lee said. “Maybe it was that I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to shoot or because we were trying to get the ball to Zach more because he had a mismatch.

“As a team, we need to score more. I had two points where I could easily have 11 or 12.”

Comfort led South Whidbey, and tied Lakewood’s best scorer Ryan Alford, with 14 points. The Falcons’ big post presence also grabbed nine rebounds and had four blocks.

Pope said South Whidbey controlled the interior on defense with help from freshman forward Mo Hamsa, who scored eight points and had two blocks.

While Hamsa had some “freshman” mistakes, Pope said Comfort was the rock down low.

“We were successful at times, not successful at times,” Pope said. “We could have got it to him all night, we just didn’t do it.”

For the Falcons’ floor leader Lee, the problem was having a team with eager shooters. Falcon junior forward Andrew Holt finished with 11 points, three rebounds and three blocks, but other than Comfort and him, the Falcons struggled to score. Sam Turpin scored six points, Mitchell Hughes had four, Taylor Simmons added two and Guy Sparkman and Nick French were scoreless. No Falcon scored a three-pointer.

“We shoot a little early in the shot clock,” Lee said. “We need to be a little more patient and pass the ball around.”

The 27 turnovers left South Whidbey confident that if it can cut those down, the Falcons can win. Given the high number of giveaway possessions, Lakewood’s 11-point win could have been much greater. Through three games, South Whidbey has committed 79 turnovers.

“You can’t win any game with 29, 23 and 27 turnovers,” Pope said. “I don’t care who we’re playing, it could be Garfield High School (a 4A powerhouse in Seattle) or Langley Middle School, we have to protect the ball.”

Pope’s court leader agreed that the Falcons need to improve independent of who they face.

“A good basketball team should be able to line up against any defense and know what to do,” Lee said. “We’re not quite there yet.”

The Falcons continued to practice breaking a press defense with passing rather than dribbling this week.

Going forward, Pope said the players need to focus on their plays and let the coaches study their opponents.

“It’s no longer about us preparing for the next team,” he said. “We’re worried about ourselves.”

Lee admitted to being frustrated with the team’s record. Still, he said the Falcons can only improve.

“The turnovers are going to go down. They sure as heck can’t go up,” Lee said. “We will learn just from playing.”

South Whidbey traveled to Granite Falls on Dec. 9. The Tigers (1-2 overall) have been inconsistent thus far, scoring 52, 37 and 70 points (their only win).




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