Sports

New basketball coach looks to rebuild team

If basketball is all about attitude, Sam Lee is giving some "tude" to the Falcon girls basketball team.

"We don't go to play anybody," said Lee, Falcons' new head coach. "They come to play us."

It's a whole new game for the South Whidbey girls this year. Without former head coach Nancy Ricketts calling plays for the first time in years, the Falcons don't have much of the familiar to cling to.

That's not all bad, considering the team had a 7-13 record last year, just one season after they placed eighth at the state basketball tournament.

The 2001-02 team doesn't have a great deal of experience, nor does it have many four-year veterans. Six of the team's 10 varsity players didn't play varsity last year. Three of the team's five starters aren't even seniors.

But none of that matters, said Lee this week.

Freshly installed in the Falcon program after spending the last few years coaching 4A Juanita High School in Kirkland, he said this year's South Whidbey team is quick, eager, and capable of winning games. They are also enthusiastic. Twenty-eight girls turned out two weeks ago to play -- more than at any of the schools in the King County 4A league, Lee said.

With assistant coaches Howard Collier, Henry Pope and Falcon alum Kendrah Wick, Lee is trying to give a team with almost no playing time as a unit the goals it needs to reach to be successful: increase their knowledge and skill as basketball players, avoid injuries and "spend that first week in March in Yakima."

Whether the last goal is fulfilled is not crucial, but keeping it in mind may take the Falcons where they want to go. In one of the toughest 2A basketball conferences in the state, the South Whidbey girls -- who average about 5 feet 7 inches on the varsity team -- will see big, strong competition in teams from Lynden Christian, Meridian, Nooksack Valley and Blaine.

Leading the team will be last season's top scorer, Hilary Wick. The only Falcon to garner all-conference honors last winter, the 6 foot-1 inch senior will play post this year. Keeping the ball moving around her will be two sophomore guards Bronwyn Russell and Brianna Hussey, junior Julie Robinson and senior forward Melissa Poolman. Also in the varsity lineup are Karen Schwager, Erin Iddins, Lindsey Binford, Lauren Johnson and Jordan Tobler.

Last Saturday, team and coach got to know more about one another under pressure when they competed at the Woodinville Jamboree. In a shortened game against Newport, the Falcons held a lead until the final 10 seconds. Though the Falcons had little seasoning, Lee said they played well together.

South Whidbey will be the last stop in Lee's coaching career. Focused on building a strong girls feeder program from kindergarten-age on up, Lee said the area could be a hotbed of basketball considering the past and present talent he's seen.

"I probably will stay here until I'm done," Lee said.

Missing from this year's line up are graduates Haley Gabelein and Samantha Watson, as well as senior starter Jaci Gutzmer.

The Falcon girls get their first real test this Friday when they play against Klahowya on the road. They open the home season on Dec. 4 with a game against Chimacum.

Falcon girls basketball

2001-2002 season

DateOpponentSiteVarsityJVC-team
Nov. 30KlahowyaAway7:30 p.m.5:45 p.m.NG
Dec. 4ChimacumHome6 p.m.4:30 p.m.NG
Dec. 7SultanHome7:30 p.m.5:45 p.m.7:30 p.m.
Dec. 11Lynden ChristianAway7 p.m.5:15 p.m.5:15 p.m.
Dec. 13LakewoodHome7 p.m.5:15 p.m.5:15 p.m.
Dec. 18NooksackAway7 p.m.5:15 p.m.5:15 p.m.
Dec. 21BlaineHome7:30 p.m.5:45 p.m.7:30 p.m.
Dec. 28Falcon ClassicHome6 p.m.8 p.m.NG
Dec. 29Falcon ClassicHomeTBATBANG
Jan. 8Mount BakerAway7 p.m.5:15 p.m.7 p.m.
Jan. 11MeridianAway7:30 p.m.5:45 p.m.NG
Jan. 15Granite FallsHome7 p.m.5:15 p.m.5:15 p.m.
Jan. 18SultanAway7:30 p.m.5:45 p.m.7:30 p.m.
Jan. 25LakewoodAway7:30 p.m.5:45 p.m.7:30 p.m.
Jan. 26Lynden ChristianHome7 p.m.5:15 p.m.5:15 p.m.
Jan. 29NooksackHome7 p.m.5:15 p.m.5:15 p.m.
Feb. 1BlaineAway7:30 p.m.5:45 p.m.5:45 p.m.
Feb. 8Mount BakerHome7:30 p.m.5:45 p.m.7:30 p.m.
Feb. 12MeridianHome7 p.m.5:15 p.m.NG
Feb. 15Granite FallsAway7:30 p.m.5:45 p.m.7:30 p.m.

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