Tigers almost end Falcons' season with 53-51 road win

After what happened Friday night, there is little chance that South Whidbey basketball fans will be watching any post-season games.

Kept at bay by little more than two or three more points all night, the Falcon boys lost their second close game of the season to Granite Falls, falling 53-51. The loss makes it almost statistically impossible for the South Whidbey boys to make it into district playoffs.

Playing on the road, South Whidbey was always close but never quite. Though senior guard Bill Schneeman had one of his better games of the season while leading the team with 16 points and 10 rebounds, the Falcons could not find much leverage against the Tigers. Quarter by quarter, the two teams hit an almost identical number of baskets, with Granite Falls getting an edge in the first, third and fourth quarters. They also had a marginally better night under the net than South Whidbey, outrebounding the Falcons 33-29.

After the Falcons lost 61-56 to the Tigers on Jan. 7 in the absence of its starting five players, Friday's game seemed to be one that could have gone in the win column. However, Granite Falls apparently learned from its mistakes from that game. South Whidbey coach Andy Davis said several of the players who faced his team in January were sent down to the Tigers' junior varsity team. On the court, Granite Falls defenders contained South Whidbey senior Forrest Holder, who slammed the Tigers for 32 points in the two teams' previous meeting. Holder scored just 11 points Friday.

The trouble for South Whidbey, as Davis saw it, is they could not get an edge in the game.

"They played from the front most of the time," he said.

The loss drops the Falcons to 2-10 and eighth place in the North Cascades Conference. The top six teams in the NCC qualify for playoffs: 12-0 Nooksack Valley and 9-3 Blaine have already clinched two of the spots, while 8-4 Lynden Christian and 7-5 Lakewood will finish ahead of the Falcons even if they lose their remaining four games.

Still in range are 6-5 Meridian and 6-7 Mount Baker. The Falcons played the Mountaineers on Tuesday night and will play the Trojans on Feb. 21. To overtake either team, the Falcons must win all their remaining games, including contests with Blaine and Lynden Christian. They also need the Trojans and Mountaineers to lose all their games.

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