Pioneer speed, Borderite turnovers stop South Whidbey team twice

A cascade of turnovers one night and a feeling of flat footedness the next have put a crimp in the basketball season for the South Whidbey boys.

Though still in sixth place in the North Cascades Conference -- a position good enough to guarantee post-season play -- two stinging wins over the weekend had the Falcons reeling just a week after they put the brakes on Lakewood in their finest win of the season.

On Friday, the Falcons lost the ball 25 times as they fell to visiting Blaine 68-42. Saturday was worse. Although they kept their hands on the ball, the South Whidbey boys -- who had been off for a week due to heavy snows earlier in the week -- could not find a rhythm in a road game against Nooksack Valley and lost to the state-ranked Pioneers 81-49. Both losses gave the Borderites and the Pioneers season sweeps over South Whidbey.

Falcon Coach Andy Davis said his team is facing its toughest opposition as the season winds toward playoffs.

"We're playing good teams," he said.

No kidding. Even though Falcon scoring leader Tim Gabelein had a 20-point, seven-rebound night against the Borderites, it was the lost opportunities against Blaine's sticky defensive unit that prevented South Whidbey from ever getting close. Behind 17-6 after the first quarter, the deficit only got worse as the game wore on.

"They've got a good, solid defensive team," Davis said of the opposition.

The key to winning Saturday's game, at least for Nooksack Valley, was speed and brutality. Though slightly smaller in stature than the Falcons, the Pioneers outran the Falcons to the ball on offense and caged the Big Blue birds on defense, limiting Falcon high scorers Tim Gabelein and Josh Coleman to just 10 points apiece.

The Pioneers also punished anyone who got in their way. Senior Colin Murphy took four charges during the game. Davis admired his players' courage.

"A couple of them looked like they kinda hurt," he said.

The weekend was kinder to South Whidbey's junior varsity and C-squad teams. The JV boys beat Blaine Friday and lost to Nooksack Valley on Saturday. The C-squad won on both nights. So even as the varsity team's record stands at 6-11 overall, the JV team sports a 9-8 tally and the C-squad a 12-4 record.

The boys play next in a Friday road game against Mount Baker.

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