Close early, Falcon girls finish with hard crash

Bronwyn Russell and her basketball teammates were ready for Blaine Saturday.

Though the Borderites were coming into Erikson Gymnasium with an 8-0 overall record and a 4-0 North Cascades Conference record, they still seemed vulnerable. In a meeting before the game, during which the team and head coach Howard Collier talked about how to avoid giving away dozens of rebounds — as they did the night before in a loss to Lynden Christian — the Falcons figured they would need their best defense of the year and near-perfect shooting to stay with the competition.

That’s the plan they went with, and it worked through two quarters of basketball. But when in the third quarter Russell — the team’s senior point guard — went hard to the floor under a Blaine player’s charge, the whole game plan fell apart to the tune of a 59-35 loss.

Russells fall — the third of the night after taking a charge — sent her out of the game with what team coaches and trainers feared could be a mild concussion. For her trouble, Russell was not rewarded with a single penalty free throw. That got the home crowd after the game’s referees.

“I think their team got away with a lot of stuff the refs didn’t see,” said a recovered Russell Monday.

With Russell out of the game, the Borderites got away with the game. Freed from the double team she’d been fighting for the first half of the game, Blaine post Jessica Summers bombarded the Falcons on her way to 30 points.

Coach Collier said the game, which takes South Whidbey to a ?-? record, could have been better but for Russell’s injury.

“I think the game would have been a little bit closer,” he said.

Also hurting the team was the loss of senior Jordan Tobler to fouls. She was called for two fouls in the opening minutes of the first quarter and wound up fouling out for the second time in as many games.

Collier credited his team’s backup point guard, sophomore Jessi Eaton, for keeping the game together after Russell’s exit. But, he said, without two of his key starters in the game, his team had little chance against the NCC’s best girls basketball squad.

The Falcons play next at home Friday night against Lakewood.

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