Hoops win at Blaine kick starts season

In six seconds and one overtime period on Dec. 29, two basketball coaches started losing their minds, 10 players fought for a ball, and two South Whidbey senior boys shot three times before it all came to a thundering end.

And while there was no trophy in the offing for the Falcons as a reward for their only win — a 61-60 squeaker over Port Townsend — at the two-day Blaine Christmas Tournament, the game promises to pay dividends going into the heart of the team’s season.

A 2-6 team in non-conference play to start the season, the Falcons have picked up their only wins in their last four games. Last Wednesday’s tournament final, said South Whidbey head coach Andy Davis, was a big positive in terms of his team learning how to handle pressure.

“It was fun,” he said.

The victory came 24 hours after the Falcons took a 58-37 drubbing from former North Cascades Conference rival Blaine. The Borderites used size and a solid zone defense to contain the Falcons, limiting them to single-digit scoring in the first, third and fourth quarters. Turnovers and poor shooting indicated the direction of the game well before the final buzzer, as the Falcons coughed up the ball 14 times to Blaine’s 8 and had just two players — seniors Dustin Sidhu and Tanner McInerney — in double scoring figures.

But the following night, almost everything was working for South Whidbey. Almost. The Falcons suffered through a dismal 15-5 first quarter in which they turned the ball over six times on their way to a 10-point deficit.

But the game came back in the second quarter when the Falcon defense started Port Townsend on its way to 17 total turnovers on the night and capitalized, outscoring their opponents 14-6 to pull within two at the half.

Throughout the game, the one play that truly kept the Falcons alive was the offensive rebound. Doing the most damage on the boards was 5-11 senior Andrew Hosmer, who came down with the ball on five of the 15 grabs the team made on the night. On his way to 10 points in the game, Hosmer also stole the ball four times, getting it not only into his hands, but those of Sidhu and McInerney, whom combined for 33 points.

Going point for point with Port Townsend, the Falcons found themselves down by two with 6 seconds remaining in regulation. In an act of perfect timing, Sidhu drove the length of the court and made a field goal at the buzzer, despite being fouled on his way. He went on to miss a free throw that would have won the game.

But in overtime, he made up for it — eventually. With his team down by one with seconds to go, he took an inbounding pass and missed his shot. Seconds later, McInerney took a shot of his own, but also missed. The ball filtered back to Sidhu, who again timed his best effort to the buzzer, draining a field goal with no time remaining to win the game.

With Cascade Conference play start this week, the Falcons now have the momentum to play winning basketball, said Andy Davis. The Falcons open their home conference season on Friday against Kings.

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