Free throw keeps boys team alive

>Senior Patrick Moote tracks a Blaine player during last week
>Senior Patrick Moote tracks a Blaine player during last week's playoff loss to Blaine. The Falcons did better Wednesday against Lakewood, winning 48-47.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

Even with a shot at South Whidbey's first boys basketball playoff win in more than five years in his hands alone Wednesday night, George Spivakov was the steadiest person in the gym.

With 25 seconds on the clock and a chance to give his team the go-ahead in a 1-and-1 chance at the charity line, Spivakov made the first half of the pair of shots to take the Falcons to a 48-47 victory.

His shot ended a game that forced the Falcons to overcome a big first-half deficit and three of the best offensive players in the North Cascades Conference. The victory carries the team into a game today against Nooksack Valley that will send one team to the state tournament and one home for the season.

In Wednesday's game, the Falcons got their big break when, with about two-and-a-half minutes remaining in the game, Lakewood's leading scorer Garrick Olson and the team's biggest player, Jake Poeschel, fouled out in altercations with junior Falcon Travis Tornga. Olson got his walking papers when he blocked Tornga in the lane, while Poeschel punched his bench ticket when he pushed Tornga during a Lakewood offensive drive.

Falcon Coach Andy Davis said those two venial sins proved cardinal for Lakewood.

"That was really huge," he said.

After the fouls, the Falcons went on an 8-2 run before senior Tim Gabelein put up the field goal that tied the game at 47-47. After Spivakov's free throw, inept shooting by Lakewood and the Falcon defense kept the ball out of the net.

Davis said Spivakov, who is one of the team's most productive players at the free throw line, was the guy he wanted in a clutch situation.

"I don't think anything rattles him at all," he said.

That remains to be seen today, when the Falcons try to make the third time the charm against Nooksack Valley. The Pioneers beat the Falcons soundly in two games earlier in the season. Davis said his team will need its best performance of the year to get past Nooksack and win a bus ride to Yakima's Sun Dome for the state tournament.

Today's game starts at 3 p.m. at Mount Vernon High School.

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