SULTAN — New year, new lineup.
South Whidbey’s boys basketball team lost a couple of seniors over the winter break and lost to Sultan 67-50 Wednesday night. Executing the offense continued to flummox the Falcons, who presented a new starting lineup that replaced the starting point guard, the senior sixth man and a forward.
“We had a good first half and kept up with them. They’re a good team,” said Falcon senior Taylor Simmons.
“Their coach made some great adjustments that just killed us.”
Scoring 13 points in four minutes, Sultan broke a halftime tie at 29-29 to lead by double digits in the third quarter. The Turks never lost the lead after the first possession of the third quarter, and what started as a dive-for-loose balls, shot blocking brawl turned into a rout in favor of the home team Turks (3-2 Cascade Conference; 4-6 overall).
Sultan head coach Nate Trichler switched his team to a trap defense and forced several turnovers to start the second half.
“We just didn’t know how to handle it,” Simmons said. “That’s 100 percent my fault. I should have recognized it earlier and set us up into something.”
Playing point guard and running an offense is a new burden for Simmons. In his previous three years in the Falcon program, two of which on the junior varsity squad, Simmons was a forward whose duty was to grab rebounds and defend. With the departure of starting point guard Sam Turpin, the Falcons used Simmons as the floor general.
“Losing guys is always hard, especially at a small school because we’re all friends,” Simmons said. “The bottom line is those guys quit on the team and the rest of us have to put our nose to the grindstone and try to get some wins no matter our staff.”
A small lineup of backcourt players hurt South Whidbey (1-4 Cascade Conference; 3-7 overall) against Sultan. Simmons drew three fouls in the first half and was saddled on the bench for large stretches of the game, especially when he picked up a fourth foul early in the third quarter.
“My job is to try to get us in an offense, and I didn’t do a very good job of that,” Simmons said.
“It’s hard, but I’ve got to make stuff happen. I have to help the team. I didn’t play smart today.”
Missing two senior guards, the Falcons relied on junior forward Nick French inside for their points. He led all scorers with 22 points and grabbed six rebounds. An unlikely Falcon helped in the paint, sophomore forward Parker Collins, who was recently brought up from junior varsity. Collins displayed a variety of low post moves and scored several putback baskets off Falcon misses for 15 points.
Defensively, the Falcons were in disarray as the Turks found open layups all night. No Turk feasted on the Falcons’ confusion more than junior reserve Cooper Buecherie, who scored 14 points all within 10 feet of the basket.
Hitting outside shots, usually a staple of the Falcons’ offense, was absent Wednesday night. Falcon junior Brandon Asay shot plenty from behind the arc and watched three attempts rattle out, but only sank one and finished with nine points.
Rest was in short supply for the Falcons. South Whidbey had only one day to prepare for a bout with Archbishop Murphy (2-2 Cascade Conference; 3-4 overall) on Jan. 4.