Falcons fall short in hoops opener

Crippled by single-digit first-quarter scoring and five missed free throws in the final 90 seconds, the Falcon boys basketball team dropped their first game of the season Friday night to Klahowya 60-53.

Though senior forward Tim Gabelein put up more than half of South Whidbey’s offense with a 32-point season-opening performance, a stiff start and an otherwise poor offensive showing hurt the Falcons as they tried to win their first home game of the season.

Falling behind 10-0 in the opening minutes of the game, the Falcons gave themselves a steep path to run from the opening whistle. Team coach Andy Davis said those first minutes were the difference in the game.

“That kind of hurts us,” he said.

But the Falcon shooters did wake up. In the second quarter, the Falcons put up 10 points, then followed with a 14-point third quarter and a 23-point fourth. At one point late in the game, the South Whidbey boys closed to within five points when a Klahowya player put what initially seemed to be a junk shot over the heads of the Falcon defenders from well outside the key. Davis said he and his players were shocked, then deflated when the shot swished for three points.

“It was the biggest play of the game,” he said.

Still, the Falcons kept shooting, running, and — most importantly — producing loose balls with effective defensive play. Unfortunately, most of those loose balls went back to Klahowya, which turned the confusion into points on the scoreboard.

Late in the fourth quarter, after junior Brandon Turner nailed a three pointer, five foul shots put up by Gabelein and Turner missed the mark. Those shots could have made the game a two-point contest.

Davis said the team had already asked too much of Gabelein, who swished 12 of 16 free throw attempts during the game.

“We can’t rely on Timmy for 32 points every game,” Davis said.

On a brighter note, both South Whidbey’s junior varsity and C-squad teams won games Friday night. Against the Klahowya JV, the Falcons were 20-plus point winners. The C-squad, which played Coupeville, won with a 50-point margin.

The Falcons’ next game is on Friday against Sultan. Play starts at 5:45 p.m. at Sultan High School. The varsity team plays at 7:30 p.m.

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