Falcons take flight to beat Coupeville in second half

The Falcon boys did it again.

Down in the first quarter, down at the half and tied at the third break, the South Whidbey boys basketball team roared back to win their first league game over Coupeville 50-42 Thursday.

South Whidbey is now 3-1 for the season.

The previously undefeated Wolves made six unanswered points to start the game, led by Coupeville’s James Smith, Jason Bigby and 6-foot-7 Brian Miller. They were fast and aggressive and exuded confidence on the court.

Smith, in particular, specialized in making treys from outside the crowd.

One by one, South Whidbey’s best shooters fell by the wayside — inside or out they could not find the bucket until Eric Stallman finally scored three minutes into the period.

Even so, the boys had plenty of hustle, stealing the ball and rebounding, but their trips to the well resulted in empty buckets.

A nice steal by Blake Blakey led to a Parker Barnett soft tip into the net and the boys were behind 11-5 at the end of the first quarter.

The game then degenerated into a defensive struggle, with Coupeville seemingly playing it safe. And why not — Eric Stallman didn’t take the Falcons in to double digits until midway through the period.

“First quarters have been a problem for us because last season, this team didn’t have much success. So to start out, we are trying to figure out whether or not we can compete with the other team,” said Falcon coach Scott Collins.

“Once our kids figure it out, they play really well. It’s a confidence issue with these guys, but winning will solve that problem.”

The score was 18-13 at halftime.

Now it was time to go to work, as Collins and his assistant coaches made adjustments on coverage and penetration.

“The coach told us we needed more rebounds and a better effort to stop the three-pointers,” Barnett said later.

The coach confirmed one strategy that worked.

“At halftime we told the kids to attack with penetration and get the ball inside to Parker,” Collins said.

It worked; Parker scored

13 points in the second half while Eric Stallman scored 10 on penetration and drives.

Full court pressure and a switch from zone to man-to-man coverage slowly began to take the bloom off Coupeville’s rose in the second period.

With 4:10 left in the third, Barnett evened the score at 20-20 for the first time.

Eric and Scott Stallman, Chris Carey, Blake Blakey, Jeff Brasko and CJ Baker truly caught fire and intensified their play, keeping the Falcons in contention at 27-27 at the final break.

A combo of power fast breaks, heads-up defense, improved shooting and the roar of the huge Falcon crowd tipped the balance to South Whidbey.

With 3:20 left in the game, the Falcons pulled ahead by double digits, 40-30.

Still, Coupeville did not fold.

“Our defense was great tonight. We’ve given up under 50 points in three straight games and if we do that all season this team will be very successful,” Collins said. “The crowd was a lot of fun, and created a great basketball environment. We hope to continue to receive that support throughout the season.”

With seconds to go, Coupeville’s Smith failed to make his free throws while Eric Stallman dropped four in a row for the

50-42 final score.

“We just had it in our heads we could win,” Carey said. “The crowd support was fantastic.”

Barnett agreed.

“We outworked ‘em in the second half,” he said.

After telling Collins, “Good second half,” Coupeville coach Randy King disappeared into the locker room and was unavailable for comment.

The loss dropped the Wolves to 3-1.

Barnett paced the Falcons with 19 points, Eric Stallman had

14, Carey added seven.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18, the boys welcome Sultan to Erickson Gym.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or sports@south

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