Knights’ defense quells Falcon boys

Falcon senior Josh Bishop drives to the corner against Knight sophomore Josh Alexander on Friday. Below, Falcon senior Mitchell Hughes rises for a layup on a cut.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Falcon senior Josh Bishop drives to the corner against Knight sophomore Josh Alexander on Friday. Below, Falcon senior Mitchell Hughes rises for a layup on a cut.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

LANGLEY — Under pressure from the opening play, the Falcon boys basketball team cracked like Humpty Dumpty tumbling from the wall against the King’s Knights.

King’s held South Whidbey to just two points in the first quarter and five in the final period to rout the Falcons 49-25 on Friday night. It was both teams’ Cascade Conference opener, and it was only the second home game for South Whidbey.

“We were being really stupid with the ball,” said Falcon senior guard Josh Bishop, who came off the bench and led his team with nine points. “I know jitters had to do with that. During pregame warmups, we were really, really nervous.”

“That’s not an excuse to turn the ball over four times in the first minute.”

South Whidbey attempted a rally in the third quarter and cut the lead to 12 points. But the Knights rode out the small scoring barrage, focused on defense and held the Falcons to only five points in the last eight minutes to secure their first conference victory. The Falcons committed more turnovers (18) than they made field goals (eight).

From the tipoff, turnovers killed the Falcons’ offense. On the first inbound play, sophomore Angus Jones’ pass, intended for senior point guard Sam Turpin, was picked by Knight guard David Barhanovich. After making a free throw, the Knights again stole the inbound pass. And that play became a staple in King’s press defense, challenging the inbound play after a Knight basket.

Turnovers and a sloppy offense forced Falcon head coach Henry Pope to call time out. He drew out the proper way to beat the King’s press defense and the Falcons’ next play. A travel call on senior Taylor Simmons ended those hopes early. South Whidbey finally made a shot in the final minute on a spin move by junior Nick French, but King’s led 14-2.

South Whidbey would not be that close to the lead until the third quarter. Mitchell Hughes, a senior forward, came off the bench and scored an alley-oop that brought the Falcon faithful to attention. Hughes really ignited the crowd on the next play, when he caught a long pass, stepped behind the three-point arc and drilled a three-pointer.

Fired up behind a couple of defensive stops and Knight misses, the Falcons let the three-point shots fly. Hughes launched another one, this time it missed. But French tipped the rebound to Bishop for a deep three that cut King’s lead to 29-17 and forced Knight head coach Rick Skeen to call time out.

The Knights scored on two of their next three possessions and ended the Falcons’ run. The Falcons again cut the lead to 12 points on a three-pointer by Bishop. In front of the Falcon student section, Bishop rotated to the corner, elevated and released over a Knight defender, watched it slide through the nylon net and yelled, “Money!”

“That got us pumped up and got our offense flowing,” Bishop said.

Those were the last points of the quarter for South Whidbey.

King’s closed the fourth quarter with stifling defense before Skeen pulled his starters with three minutes remaining.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to see who will be most efficient on the floor,” Bishop said.

“There’s not a game that’s going to go by that’s going to make us worse.”

South Whidbey visits its Whidbey Island rival, Coupeville, Friday. If they defeat the Wolves, they have a chance to secure the second seed for the District 1 tournament in February.


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