Struggles continue for Falcon boys basketball team at midway mark

Like most of the season, the Falcon boys basketball team began well and faded late against the Archbishop Murphy Wildcats in a 56-29 loss.

On the road, South Whidbey trailed by nine points at halftime. Then the Falcons’ offense vanished as they scored nine points the rest of the game.

“We started off OK,” said Falcon head coach Henry Pope.

“We were given opportunities at the basket, but we were missing our free throws.”

Archbishop Murphy had senior center Zach Gordon return to the lineup to lead all scorers with 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocks.

South Whidbey was led by senior point guard Sam Lee, who scored 14 points, including one three-pointer.

The Falcons’ best period was the second quarter, when they scored 12 points. Josh Bishop hit two three-pointers to break a recent dry spell from beyond the arc by the junior marksman.

South Whidbey’s most consistent scorer, senior forward Zach Comfort, was limited to four points.

“The kids played good. The kids are working their tails off,” Pope said. “Somehow we just can’t put it together in the whole game.”

Out of the halftime break, the Wildcats led 29-20. The home team focused its efforts on defense and stifled the Falcons to only five points in the eight-minute period.

“That third quarter has always been our toughest quarter,” Pope said.

A pattern of third-quarter collapses was inexcusable for one of the Falcons’ co-captains. Lee said he knew better teams push through lags and battle back.

“Good teams can’t lapse at all during a basketball game,” he said.

As one of the primary ball-handlers, Lee said part of the blame is the pressure he sees from full-court press defenses. Opposing teams have attempted to trap and fluster Lee, a first-year starter.

“We need to take care of the basketball and we’ll be just fine,” he said.

South Whidbey traveled to Sultan on Friday night to start the second half of the season.

In December, the Turks beat the Falcons 40-33 behind 17 points from junior Brock VandenEkart. Lee led the Falcons then with 14.

“Everybody’s got their spirits up, and hopefully that turns into a win,” Pope said.

The game against Sultan was expected to be a marquee match.

South Whidbey trails a tightly packed conference from the second to sixth spot - five teams are 4-3 in Cascade Conference play. The Falcons need to reverse their conference season start - three straight conference losses - in order to be viable for a district playoff berth.

“We’ve still got a little bit of a chance if we get on a winning streak,” Pope said. “We’re right there, if we can string three or four wins together.”

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