Falcon offense syncs too late against fierce Wolverines

Falcon senior Mitchell Hughes fingerrolls a layup against Friday Harbor on Saturday.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Falcon senior Mitchell Hughes fingerrolls a layup against Friday Harbor on Saturday.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

LANGLEY — Coming back from a double-digit deficit takes a lot of work.

Just ask the South Whidbey boys basketball team. Eventually, the Falcons ran out of energy and the Friday Harbor Wolverines left with a 54-47 win.

“There was definitely some fatigue and some sloppy passes,” said Falcon senior Mitchell Hughes.

South Whidbey pushed the tempo from the tipoff. The early frenetic pace favored the Falcons, but the Wolverines stood their ground and pounded the post.

Friday Harbor’s first point came on a free throw by starting junior forward Otis Copper-West, who finished with 6 points. The Wolverines jumped to a double-digit lead on a layup by senior forward Collin Williamson, who tallied a game-high 16 points, early in the second quarter. An uncontested backdoor layup by sophomore Dylan DeMaris extended the Wolverines’ lead to 24-12 and looked like it would put the Falcons away.

“We were pretty lazy getting back. There was so much confusion,” said Hughes, who led the Falcons with 13 points.

“We were just throwing up crappy shots, they wouldn’t go in and we’d all fall back. That’s why we didn’t score very much.”

As the Wolverines made their baskets, the Falcons’ shots rolled off the rim — if there was a shot at all. South Whidbey’s offense lost the ball on consecutive trips before senior Taylor Simmons hit a floater in the lane that cut the lead back to 12 points.

The shot sparked South Whidbey. Friday Harbor lost the ball to a steal by Falcon senior guard Sam Turpin who found Simmons behind the arc for a three pointer.

“My mom actually talked to me about being more aggressive,” said Simmons, who averaged .5 points per game in the two previous contests. “I guess I took it to heart and focused on taking the ball to the hole.”

South Whidbey kept the lead to single digits on a pair of free throws — the only ones taken by the Falcons in the first half — by sophomore forward Mo Hamsa.

Steadily, the Falcons worked their way back into contention in the third quarter. Simmons finished the period with a jumpshot as the buzzer sounded, cutting Friday Harbor’s lead to 36-33.

South Whidbey’s hot handed was still burning when the fourth quarter opened. Simmons hit a pull-up shot that put South Whidbey down by only one point. On the other end, Friday Harbor’s leading scorer and biggest body was sidelined with an ankle injury that opened the court for South Whidbey.

Hamsa dropped a layup that tied the game 37-37 with six minutes remaining. After a pair of missed free throws by the Wolverines and a blocked shot by junior forward Nick French, the Falcons finally took control on a shot by French.

That was all the motivation Friday Harbor needed. The Wolverines closed the gap on their next possession, then secured the lead on a steal that led to a quick transition layup.

“Just a mixture of bad, bad things,” Simmons said. “You can get away with maybe one of those things, but not all of them.

“We play defense as a team, if a guy scores, that’s everybody’s fault.”

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