Falcons back into playoffs

For the first time in eight years, the South Whidbey boys will be playing basketball in a playoff game.

They got there the hard way. Tied with Meridian in the conference standings after losing to the Trojans Tuesday, the Falcons needed some great play and a lot of luck to convert a 4-11 conference record into playoff gold.

On Thursday night, the South Whidbey boys made good on Coach Andy Davis' word that they would see playoff action in 2002. Three Falcons scored in double figures in a 65-46 home win against Granite Falls to give South Whidbey an edge over the Tigers in the North Cascade Conference standings. Later that night, the Falcons found out that Meridian's basketball team had done its part to move the Falcons into the post season. The Trojans lost to Blaine, giving South Whidbey the sixth and final NCC playoff spot.

Tim Gabelein was South Whidbey's savior in the game, putting up 29 of the team's 65 points. Early in the third quarter, he sparked a third-quarter scoring run by putting up an over-the-shoulder, behind-the-back shot that got a capacity crowd at Erikson Gymnasium howling. That shot and the Falcons' 15-7 advantage in the quarter buried the Tigers, who were within two points of the Falcons at halftime.

Also putting up solid efforts during this, the last home game of the season, were Josh Coleman and Brandon Turner, who scored nine points each. In all, eight Falcons contributed to the night's total -- a far better team performance than two nights earlier.

While Tuesday's game against Meridian was good in terms of individual scoring statistics, the Falcon boys did not get the job done in what was almost a must-win game. Three South Whidbey boys -- Gabelein, Turner and George Spivakov -- scored in double digits. But the remainder of their teammates contributed only four additional points in the 66-48 loss.

Crippled from the opening whistle by a 25-4 Trojan onslaught in the first quarter, the team saw its playoff chances diminishing as the game stayed out of reach.

District playoffs start next week. NCC officials have not yet announced pairings for the first round of the tournament. The boys finish the regular season with a 5-11 conference record and a 7-13 overall record.

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