South Whidbey had little trouble scoring against Lakewood en route to 58 points.
The Falcons’ challenge, and ultimately their failure, was stopping the Lakewood Cougars. Lakewood ran away with the Cascade Conference game Tuesday, 71-58, the second-most points allowed by the South Whidbey boys basketball team this season.
“Defense is not our concern at the moment. We’re holding teams pretty well,” said Falcon junior Brandon Asay. “Lakewood is the exception to that.”
Just when things seemed to turn a corner for the Falcons on the heels of their first win streak, the Cougars came to Langley and mauled their way on the back of Ryan Alford, who scored a game-high 27 points. Alford drained three three-point shots, the only shots beyond the arc Lakewood scored.
“He was breaking us down one-on-one, which is not only the fault of the person guarding him but the help defense, too,” Asay said. “He was able to attack our defense which was kind of crumbling under their attack.”
Most of Lakewood’s 71 points came inside the paint, where South Whidbey’s front court of forwards Angus Jones and Nick French, 6-5 and 6-2, respectively, was challenged. French scored a team-high 20 points, his second 20-point game in a row (he had 20 against Overlake on Dec. 15).
In the previous two wins, South Whidbey had held opponents to 37 and 51 points. Keeping teams under 50 points, one Falcon senior said after downing Coupeville on Friday, was critical to winning.
The importance of defensive stops was not lost on South Whidbey (1-3 Cascade Conference; 3-6 overall). It was just hard to execute.
“The type of defense we play doesn’t matter if we don’t have intensity,” Asay said. “We’ve got to pick that back up.”
The Falcons led 12-8 after the first quarter. But the Cougars roared in the second with 24 points and held a 32-25 lead at halftime.
Defensively, the Falcons tightened a bit in the third quarter and held the Cougars to 15 points while finding a few more points themselves. By the final quarter, the Falcons trailed only four points.
But the Cougars are closers and flourished with another 24-point quarter to go up by double digits.
Poor free throw shooting and turnovers again plagued South Whidbey, Asay recalled. Time will heal those wounds and improve the team as it familiarizes itself with the offense.
“As the season goes on, we’re finding ourselves in rhythm,” said Asay, who scored 11 points. “The struggle is some players’ unfamiliarity with the offense … we tend to take our shots a bit too early.”
Falcon senior Josh Bishop came off the bench and scored 14 points, including a trio of three pointers.