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Boys restart with Sultan
It was unlike anything South Whidbey basketball fans had seen for weeks.
Seniors Josh Coleman, Travis Tornga and Brandon Adams hammered the Sultan Turks with a combined 53 points as they led the Falcon boys to their biggest win of the season, crushing their hapless opponents 86-44.
The win ended a seven-game losing streak that started after five Falcons starters were benched for three weeks for violating the school's athletic code.
At 1-9 in North Cascades Conference play going into the contest, South Whidbey desperately needed the win. A clear pick to be a playoff team at the beginning of the season, the Falcons can no longer write any guarantees for their post season, even if they win their five remaining games. Second from the bottom in the nine-team NCC, they trail most of the teams above them by two to six games. League leader Nooksack Valley is 10-0.
Against the Turks, the Falcons looked unbeatable. With heavy defensive pressure, the Falcons forced turnovers throughout the game, turnovers that turned into points. Senior point guard Brandon Turner did some of the best intimidation, stealing the ball six times in addition to scoring seven points.
South Whidbey coach Andy Davis said it was encouraging to see his team take advantage instead of being taken advantage of.
"We created a bunch of easy scoring opportunities for ourselves," he said.
They also exhausted the competition. Though being without their starters for three weeks damaged their playoff chances, South Whidbey gleaned a good deal of varsity experience for younger players during that six-game stretch. Ten players suited up and worked into Friday night's rotation, keeping the jump shots and fast breaks fresh on rested legs.
Sultan had its chances, touching the ball almost as often as the Falcons. With a slight, 32-25 rebounding advantage, the South Whidbey boys were a bit more effective under the basket, but it was from the field where they did the most damage. A total of nine scorers shot 55 percent overall, the team's best shooting percentage in weeks. That percentage, and the scoring total, could have been even better but for the fact that senior Forrest Holder, who averaged 16 points in January, was out with an injury.
The win came as the second of two confidence builders during the week. On Tuesday, the Falcons went toe-to-toe with Nooksack Valley, and challenged the conference leaders through the third quarter.
The team's first game with the suspended starters back on the court, the Falcons played even with the Pioneers in the first half, then took a small lead in the third quarter that stuck around two and three points. But a mis-assigned foul, given to Brandon Turner instead of senior guard Bill Schneeman, forced the Falcons to sit their best ball handler.
A couple turnovers later, the Pioneers were in the lead to stay. They pressed their advantage through the rest of the half and won 73-55.
Nonetheless, coach Davis said the game proved his team could play with the best.
"I don't think anybody's had the lead on these guys in the second half," he said.
The Falcons play next in a road game against 4-7 Granite Falls Friday. They come home Feb. 11 to play 6-5 Mount Baker.