Girls' basketball team stronger on defense

The game they play is as clean as it's ever been. Turnovers are few, the rebounding is solid, and foul trouble is almost non-existent.

Too bad cleanliness is not always next to winliness in high school basketball.

Even with the ball solidly in their hands -- when they had it in their hands -- Friday and Saturday, the South Whidbey High School girls basketball team lacked that something extra needed to win games. Facing down Lakewood and Lynden Christian teams for the second time this year, the Falcons found little had changed since December. They lost to the Cougars 45-42 for the lack of luck and to the Lyncs 41-32 for the lack of shooting.

On Friday night, poor starting power put the Falcons so far behind they could not recover. Outscored by Lakewood 7-3 in the first quarter, it was clear that while South Whidbey's defense was hot, its shooting was cold. Shooting 36 percent from the field and going 4-for-12 from the free throw line, the Falcons didn't see much net that night. Only senior Hilary Wick, who scored 22 in her fifth 20-plus point game of the season, was able to zero in on the hoop.

The Falcons kept the game close, and almost succeeded in taking a permanent lead in the fourth quarter when they outscored the Cougars 16-11. But it was fouls that killed them. By clamping down on Lakewood's shooters, the Falcons drew the attention of the referees, who sent the Cougars to the line for 18 successful free throws.

Even so, said Falcon Coach Sam Lee, he would not have had his girls defend differently.

"They played excellent half-court defense," he said.

Fast forward to Saturday night. Same defensive pressure, even better ball handling, but an even worse result.

Though they committed only 10 turnovers in Saturday's home game against Lynden Christian, the Falcons proved they could keep the ball when they had it, but that having didn't happen very often.

Neither did actual scoring. On a night when all other things seemed pretty equal between the Falcons and Lyncs, a 20 percent South Whidbey shooting performance didn't do the job against the Lyncs, who shot 47 percent on their way to a 9-point victory. Using their height advantage and short post shots, the Lyncs found ways around an otherwise tight defensive front.

Wick was again South Whidbey's high scorer, putting away 14 points.

With four games remaining in their regular season schedule, the Falcons need at least three more wins to stay in the playoff picture. At 3-8 in the North Cascades Conference and 7-8 overall, the team is currently seventh in the NCC standings. They need to be sixth to make it into the post season.

The girls were not winless as a whole for the weekend. In junior varsity play, the Falcons won on Friday and Saturday. Against Lakewood, Mary McCune's 18 points led the team to a 43-42 overtime victory. With Lynden Christian visiting, Amee Dumke's 13 points were enough to take the team to a 40-32 win.

The Falcon C-squad was not as fortunate. The lost 33-23 to Lakewood and 37-23 to the Lyncs.

The Falcons play next in a road game against Blaine Friday.

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