LANGLEY — Grabbing rebounds looked like a simple task for Annalies Schuster.
All South Whidbey’s 6-2 post had to do was reach up and over the smaller Granite Falls girls basketball team. And she did that to the tune of 15 points and 8 rebounds in South Whidbey’s 52-40 victory Tuesday.
“As my coach was wrapping my ankle, he was like, ‘That’s a 10-rebound, 12-point wrapping job,’” Schuster said. “So I made that my goal.”
South Whidbey was in control from the tipoff, which Schuster won. But she was called for a violation because the senior tipped it to herself. On offense, the Falcons ran crisp plays, moving the ball around the perimeter, inside and outside and finding Schuster early and often. Schuster scored the Falcons’ first three points on a short shot and a free throw. Those points were enough for South Whidbey to take the lead, which they never lost, in the first quarter.
Turnovers had crushed South Whidbey in the previous weeks, and a show of force was a quick way to forget the 42-40 loss to Australian team Penrith on Monday night or the 63-35 drubbing by Archbishop Murphy on Jan. 4.
“Last night, I just played a 6-6 girl, so I definitely felt the advantage,” Schuster said.
Those games seemed like a season ago as the Falcons jumped out to a 17-8 lead to finish the first quarter. Tiger senior Chryssy Dolan saved Granite Falls (0-7 Cascade Conference; 1-12 overall) by scoring six points in the opening period.
Both teams switched focus to defense in the second quarter and held one another scoreless for three minutes. Then South Whidbey (3-4 Cascade Conference; 7-6 overall) remembered it had a stark height advantage (Granite Falls’ tallest player was 5-11 senior Racheal Joplin, who did not play). The Falcons went to Schuster, who scored a quick face-up jumper to break the scoring drought.
Late in their next possession, sophomore Anne Madsen scored a deep jumpshot that gave South Whidbey its first double-digit lead of the night, 21-8. Madsen had one of the Falcons’ most efficient outings, scoring 9 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including making her only three pointer.
“To get a win like this, it gives us more confidence in ourselves and what we can do,” Madsen said.
Every chance the Falcons had to extend the lead, the Tiger team leader Dolan sank a three-point field goal. Her first three pointer was on an open look at the top of the key, which cut the Falcon lead to 21-11. Falcon head coach Andy Davis called a quick timeout to remind his squad of their defensive assignments.
The break did little good. Dolan made two more three pointers to close the first half.
South Whidbey kept up with its own scoring from senior Hayley Newman, usually the team’s leading scorer. Newman struggled, however, and made only 4-of-13 field goals and finished with 9 points.
A last-second three pointer by Tiger sophomore Makenzie McLaughlin drew Granite Falls within eight points by halftime.
Out of the break, the Falcons went on an 8-0 run on baskets by Madsen, junior point guard Madi Boyd, senior Ellie Greene and Newman. Two baskets came after steals by Greene that led to a pullup jumper on the baseline and a breakaway layup. The run extended the Falcons’ lead to double digits and the Tigers never threatened after that.