LANGLEY — If only the game had ended after the first 10 minutes.
Playing perhaps its best quarter of basketball this season, South Whidbey would have upset King’s, one of the conference’s top teams. Instead, the magic faded as the Lady Knights charged back from a 16-6 deficit to win, 66-54.
“Playing as hard as you can, it’s a great feeling,” said Falcon senior Ellie Greene. “But losing’s always tough.”
Jumping out to a 5-0 lead, King’s was poised for another blowout win. But South Whidbey kept (3-5 Cascade Conference; 7-7 overall) chasing King’s shooters, diving for loose balls and forcing turnovers. The Falcons clawed their way back to tie the game 5-5 on a deep jump shot by junior point guard Madi Boyd.
The Falcons scored seven unanswered points to close out the quarter. More importantly, the Falcons held the Lady Knights (6-2 Cascade Conference; 9-5 overall) to one of their lowest-scoring quarters this season with five points.
“It was mostly just effort,” Boyd said. “We went out there knowing we had improved a lot this season.”
“I was fist pumping and all that stuff. It was pretty exciting.”
Momentum swung in King’s favor in the second quarter. The Lady Knights broke their five-minute scoring drought with a free throw by senior Daphne Kieling, her only point of the game.
Falcon senior Hayley Newman answered with a three-point field goal to give South Whidbey its largest lead of the game, 16-6.
King’s responded in kind with a three pointer of its own from junior Julia Berenson. And the Lady Knights rained shots from the perimeter, forcing South Whidbey’s zone defense to respond.
While South Whidbey tried to keep King’s out of the key, King’s tried to keep South Whidbey behind the center-court line. The Lady Knights harassed the Falcons with a press defense that forced a string of turnovers, resulting in back-to-back steals and layups by Knights senior Ellie Rasmussen.
“We kind of slowed down on offense a little bit, we started getting tired and making a lot of substitutions,” Boyd said.
A short jump shot by sophomore Savanna Hanson knotted the score, 21-21. Greene regained the lead on a putback after a missed shot by Newman. Hanson made both free throws one a single-bonus foul to again tie the score.
With 35 second before halftime, King’s seized the lead on a layup by junior Karly Hibbard — its first since 2:40 left in the first quarter. Once the Lady Knights had the lead, they kept and extended it to double digits in the third quarter.
Perimeter shooting helped King’s secure the victory as the Lady Knights made six three-point field goals, compared to the Falcons’ lone three pointer by Newman, who scored a game-high 25 points.
Turnovers marred the fourth quarter for both teams. On one play, Hanson stole the ball, then lost it to Boyd, who was stripped by Lady Knights senior Madison Shinn, before Falcon sophomore Anne Madsen took a charge. Madsen made both free throws, which brought South Whidbey within single digits, 53-45.
King’s went on an 8-0 run to seal the game as South Whidbey put up several shots but couldn’t get any to fall.
“I just wanted to play better than the first time we played them” Greene said.