Falcon boys basketball rebounds from loss to Tigers, beat rival Wolves

Sam Lee hits a jump shot over Tiger senior guard Shawn Madigan on Friday night. Lee scored eight points.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Sam Lee hits a jump shot over Tiger senior guard Shawn Madigan on Friday night. Lee scored eight points.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

LANGLEY — The Falcon basketball boys were on a teeter-totter this weekend, lifting from a late-game loss to a sure-handed victory.

First, they lost 62-51 to Granite Falls on South Whidbey’s Senior Night on Friday.

Less than 24 hours later, South Whidbey traveled north to face Whidbey Island rival Coupeville and cruised to a 52-38 victory.

The past weekend had two of the final three games for South Whidbey’s two seniors and co-captains. Falcon senior forward Zach Comfort scored 36 points and senior point guard Sam Lee added 20 during the two-game stretch.

“It was nice to see the seniors finish well,” said Falcon head coach Henry Pope.

Against Coupeville (0-14 Cascade Conference; 0-18 overall), South Whidbey relied on its size advantage early. At 6-foot-8, Comfort gave the Falcons a cushy early lead as he scored 14 points in the first half.

The Falcons’ senior tandem connected often. Lee finished with seven assists, and Comfort snagged 10 rebounds.

South Whidbey’s size was the main distinction against Coupeville. The Wolves’ tallest players are listed at 6-foot-1. The Falcons (3-10 conference; 6-13 overall) focused on scoring in the paint, which benefited emerging forward Nick French for another six points and nine boards.

South Whidbey made only one three-pointer by sophomore point guard Guy Sparkman. Falcon junior Taylor Simmons added five points.

“We tried to utilize our energy and advantages,” Pope said.

In the second half, the Falcons rotated in more of their deep reserves, including three junior varsity players. Sophomore Kale Reichersamer, freshman Angus Jones and freshman Beck Davis all played late minutes.

Using a man-to-man, half-court defense, the Falcons limited possessions for the Wolves.

“We gave everybody some playing time to get a nice workout in before the Lakewood game,” Pope said.

“Coupeville played hard. Here’s a team that was 0-19 and they could’ve just thrown it in. They played hard,” he added. “The Coupeville coach [Anthony Smith] was energetic and encouraging.”

Friday found a familiar tune for the Falcons. South Whidbey led at halftime, only to watch the other team take control in the final period and win.

“They were a good team, but we’re better, in my opinion,” Comfort said.

“We just need to work on our consistency.”

South Whidbey’s interior game was limited by early foul trouble against Granite Falls (9-5 conference; 12-8 overall). Comfort and French — the Falcons’ leading scorers Friday night — were both sidelined by three fouls in the first half.

“We had Nick French in foul trouble, Zach in foul trouble. That’s never good for us,” Lee said.

“I hate to say it, but we had a couple calls not go our way, which ended up giving them opportunities to shoot free throws.”

Granite Falls attempted almost three times as many free throws as South Whidbey. The Tigers made 12-of-21 from the line; the Falcons were four-of-eight.

Neither team led by more than five points until five minutes remained. French fouled out with 12 points when he tried to slap the ball out of Tiger junior Drew Benson’s hands with 5:29 left.

Tiger senior center Josh VanBeek scored a layup on a baseline cut for a 51-45 lead.

With French on the bench, the Falcons altered their defensive assignments. The Tigers took advantage and extended their lead on seven-of-10 free throw shooting to finish the game 62-51.

Losing on Senior Night, even though the Falcons still had a home game remaining, left South Whidbey’s seniors wanting.

“I’ve been looking at this night for four years, wondering what it’s going to be like, who’s going to be standing next to me,” Comfort said. “It was very brief, very quaint.”

Part of the game’s perceived brevity was due to his foul trouble. With three fouls in the first half, the Falcons sat Comfort to start the second half and caused the typically aggressive shot blocker to take away only one basket in the second quarter.

“I had to play just straight up, I can’t go for blocks,” Comfort said.

His teammate had a different analysis. Lee was upset with the outcome given the Falcons’ upset victory over the Archbishop Murphy Wildcats earlier last week.

“This is definitely one of the most disappointing (losses), because I feel like we’re a better team, we can beat that team,” Lee said.

The Tigers shot their way past the Falcons’ size advantage and zone defenses. Tiger senior forward Shawn Madigan owned the second half when he scored 23 of his game-high 25 points. Granite Falls stretched South Whidbey’s defense after Tiger sophomore guard Riley Larsen drilled four three-pointers in the first half; he finished with 15 points on five three-point field goals.

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