A depleted South Whidbey roster surrendered a 15-point deficit at halftime to Nooksack Valley and failed to get back in the game.
The Pioneers ran away with the first-round victory, 58-31, Monday night on their home court. The Falcon girls basketball team fell to the consolation bracket, one loss away from elimination.
“Our varsity roster was down to eight, then we filled it in with JV girls,” said Falcon head coach Andy Davis. South Whidbey had two starters play through illness, and lost one senior a few games earlier.
Nooksack Valley (7-5 Northwest Conference; 14-7 overall) scored on the perimeter against South Whidbey’s zone defense. The Falcons have favored the zone, which allowed senior post Annalies Schuster to block and deter shots in the paint. Schuster was able to limit Nooksack’s top player Lindy Swanson in some ways, though she still scored 12 points.
The Falcons were led by senior Ellie Greene, who scored a game-high 17 points, and sophomore Anne Madsen.
“The effort level by Ellie and Anne was our one shining feature,” Davis said.
Once Nooksack Valley started making outside shots, South Whidbey switched to a man-to-man defense. But with a limited roster of experience varsity players, the task was too much to overcome.
“They’re pretty disciplined,” Davis said of Nooksack Valley.
“The top three teams up here are every bit as good as King’s.”
South Whidbey’s junior wing, Meagan Longdon, played through a cold that has coursed through the school. Longdon played limited minutes — about five — before she was pulled.
“She was hardly able to go at all,” Davis said.
South Whidbey filled out its 12-player playoff roster with freshman Morgan Davis, Mykayla Ferguson, Hailey Simchuk and Morgan Mackie.
“Their eyes were opened,” coach Davis said.
The Falcons were already eyeing a third rivalry game with the Coupeville Wolves. South Whidbey and Coupeville split their two regular season games, each winning on its home court. Offensively, South Whidbey was a mess at the start of the season when they met Coupeville back in December.
A month later, the Falcons were in command early and cruised to a 49-25 thumping of the Wolves. That last match, coupled with the fact that the two teams’ players know each other on the small island community of Whidbey, has the Falcons ready for the next tipoff.
“We’re going to play our hardest to keep ourselves in district,” Greene said.