Falcon boys shock Meridan at buzzer

A three pointer at the buzzer was likely the last thing the Meridian Trojans expected out of South Whidbey Friday night.

Up by three with seconds on the clock, the Trojans had every right to believe they would beat the Falcons and earn a third-place finish in the North Cascades Conference. They’d beaten the Falcons 61-74 on Jan. 20 and South Whidbey didn’t exactly have a reputation as a buzzer-beating team.

In a nip-and-tuck game at Erikson Gymnasium, the Falcons were surprising, staying within one point at halftime, then almost matching the Trojans point for point through the second half. But the game looked as though it would go Meridian’s way when, up 40-38 with seconds to go, the Trojans picked up the front half of a one-and-one to take a three-point advantage.

Calling a time out with five seconds remaining in regulation, South Whidbey needed a play. And they had just the one in the playbook.

Coming back to the court, the Falcons took their cues from senior point guard Travis Tornga. Tornga inbounded the ball from half court, passing to senior Kyle McGillen. Sprinting to the top of the key, Tornga got the ball back and went over the top of the only Trojan in his way to hit the three and send the game into overtime.

From there, the Falcons went on to take Meridian through two overtime periods before gapping them 54-51 to win their final game of the regular season.

The game, which will have no impact on South Whidbey’s district playoff seeding, turned on Tornga’s buzzer play, McGillen’s clutch scoring in overtime and a standout defensive effort by senior forward Paul Edgeman. McGillen led all scorers with 25, nine of which came during the two overtimes. Tornga, who had eight on the night, sank six of those points in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Meridian lost its offensive punch as Edgeman held Jeff DeVries — a player who has averaged about 18 points per game this season — to just 11.

Andy Davis, South Whidbey’s coach, said the win will be a boost as the Falcons go into playoffs.

“It gives us some confidence,” he said.

At the same time, the loss made the playoff picture a bit more dire for the 11-5 Trojans, who dropped from third place to fifth in the NCC district seedings. South Whidbey, now 7-9 in the NCC, goes into playoffs as the sixth seed.

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