Finishing strong troubled the South Whidbey boys basketball team again.
This time, it was against Archbishop Murphy in a 68-52 loss Tuesday night. On the road, the Falcons started poorly with only 11 points. A monster second quarter propelled South Whidbey to trail only 36-32, and the Falcons kept pace through the third. But then the fourth quarter came, and the Wildcats wore down the Falcons, pouring in 22 points in the final eight minutes.
It was a similar script for South Whidbey, which trailed only four points in the second quarter in its last meeting with Archbishop Murphy. But 59 percent three-point shooting sent the Wildcats on a run in the Jan. 4 game that ended as an 85-53 rout for Archbishop Murphy.
Perimeter play wasn’t as much of a factor for South Whidbey in the loss this week. The Wildcats only made two three-point field goals, and the Falcons were led by junior Brandon Asay’s trio of three pointers. Asay led his team with 16 points.
Instead, the Wildcats attacked the basket on their senior night and final home game. Wildcat senior Brad Kwesele led all scorers with 17 points.
Losing to the Wildcats extended the Falcons’ streak to four games. South Whidbey, though saddled near the bottom of the conference — above only winless Coupeville — qualified for the 1A District 1 tournament. The Falcons were likely to face the Mount Baker Mountaineers on Tuesday, Feb. 5 on the road. Mount Baker held a better record, which gave it home-court advantage over similarly third-seeded South Whidbey. The bracket was not set by press time because the Northwest Conference still had games Friday night that could affect seeding, such as a contest between Mount Baker and Bellingham.
Should Mount Baker lose its final game, then Meridian would rise to the third seed because it holds a better overall record than Mount Baker. The two Northwest Conference schools split their two games this season, each winning on its home court. But South Whidbey should have rooted for Mount Baker. Meridian wrecked South Whidbey early in the season with an 82-35 victory, the Falcons’ largest margin of defeat this year.
South Whidbey was nearly guaranteed a third game in the playoffs, however. Should the Falcons pull off an upset against either Mount Baker or Meridian in the first round, they would likely face top-seeded Lynden Christian (9-2 Northwest Conference; 15-4 overall). If South Whidbey loses its first game, it would host Coupeville, which was the only conference team South Whidbey defeated this season (the last game occurred after the Record went to press).