A great Falcon escape

Up 20-9 over the Meridian Trojans with 2:30 to go in the first half, the South Whidbey girls looked to be on their way to an easy route.

But several substitutions later, the halftime score was 22-19. And by the third minute of the third quarter, South Whidbey’s margin was down to 26-25. For a team that is not known from coming back after a momentum shift, this was bad news.

It would take the reinstatement of a full-court press defense and greater attention to rebounding to bring the game back and take South Whidbey to an eventual 65-45 victory that had “whew!” written all over it. Coming off three straight losses — including a plodding 49-30 road defeat to Lynden Christian Jan. 16 and a Saturday’s home loss to Blaine — the girls were in need of a victory. South Whidbey is currently clinging to a 3-4 North Cascades Conference record and fifth place in the standings, just ahead of now-3-5 Meridian. But the Trojans, it seems after Tuesday’s game, will be no impediment to the Falcons’ playoff plans.

The Falcons jumped on Meridian early in Tuesday night’s game, going up 9-5 in a low-scoring first quarter. In the second quarter, they ran into trouble as bench players substituted in for the team’s starters. The Trojans came back, bringing the score within three points as they outscored South Whidbey 14-13.

South Whidbey’s long and near-fatal stumble carried into the early minutes of the third quarter. That’s when starters Bronwyn Russell, Marcella Litwiller, Jordan Tobler, Caitie Newman and Danielle Burton, as well as bench player Mary McCune took control of the game. With almost no breaks to go to the bench for about 10 minutes, these five put the game away, pacing their team to a 24-point third quarter, and another 19 points in the fourth.

Litwiller led all scorers with 18 points, followed by Russell with 17. Russell, along with backup point guard Jessi Eaton, put a good deal of defensive pressure on the Trojans as well, often shutting down their drives just past half court.

For the game, South Whidbey shot 23-for-28 from the field to stay ahead of the 17-for-34 Trojans. In the fourth quarter, when whistles signaling foul calls became almost as common as the sound of dribbling, South Whidbey also maintained an edge at the line. Helping keep the winning point cushion in tact was a rare technical foul called on the Trojan coaching staff in the final 60 seconds of the game. Sophomore Janelle Iversen sank both of the free throws awarded the Falcons for the foul.

The Falcons play a road game against Steilacoom today.

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