Falcons stun Wildcats in final seconds

Last month after losing 50-47 to Archbishop Murphy, Lady Falcon co-captains Jessi Eaton and Caitie Newman vowed sweet revenge when the Wildcats came to Erikson Gym.

Oh, how sweet it was.

In the final seconds of the second contest with ATM on Friday, Eaton lofted a high, arched sinker with five seconds left to beat the Wildcats 55-53.

As the Wildcats slunk off the court, fans went wild and the Lady Falcons savored the moment.

“If I’d thought too much about it, it wouldn’t have happened,” Eaton said later.

The win means South Whidbey (7-3 league, 12-6 overall) is in solid second place in the Cascade Conference behind Kings (10-0, 17-2).

The Falcons have qualified for districts as a 3A school, and there are two regular games left (Granite Falls and Sultan) before facing a Northwest League opponent Feb. 14.

As this was the final home game, five seniors were honored before the first tip for their efforts over the years — Caitie Newman and Eaton, Marcella Litwiller, Amanda LaVassar and Janelle Iverson.

Newman picked up the first score, a single off a foul and Litwiller followed with two on the rebound. The Wildcats didn’t score for the first five minutes and it began to look like a walkover.

A walkover? Against ATM? That’s not gonna happen.

Especially as Newman started getting fouled for reasons not easily understood — on two occasions she was nowhere near the action and, as a result, only played eight minutes.

“It appeared the officials were focused on Caitie,” Falcon Coach John Pyrtek said.

The Falcons led 30-14 at the half but, “When she went out in the third quarter with her fourth foul, we were barely able to hang on by our finger nails,” Pyrtek added.

Then Wildcat center Lisa Coate stationed herself under the net and put on a fine display of artistic layups; a total of 33 points, 22 in the second half, 16 in the fourth period and seven for seven at the line.

“We could not stop her,” Pyrtek noted.

The South Whidbey girls began to falter, trying long throws like nascent Hasselbecks that, like Matt’s in Detroit, went mysteriously nowhere.

ATM outscored the Falcons 12-5 in the third and only a concerted effort by LaVassar, Lindsey Newman, Litwiller, Lauren Sandri and Eaton could stem the tide.

“Since we were ahead early, we started to slow down a bit,” Litwiller said. “We got a little rushed and needed to focus on our game plan.”

With 2:40 left in the game, the score was tied 47-47.

First Coate scored, then Eaton or Litwiller, then Coate — until the clocked ticked down to 37 seconds and the score was 53-51 in ATM’s favor.

Lindsey Newman tripped Coate with five seconds left, grabbed the ball and took it to the home hoop for two to tie the game.

Eaton took it down court on a fast break, extended her arm and shot for the win.

Oh, how sweet it was.

Lindsey Newman led the scoring with 19 and three treys, Litwiller and Eaton had 12 apiece, Caitie Newman eight and LaVassar four. South Whidbey had 10 of 17 free throws, ATM 11 of 13.

ATM is rated by the Associated Press as the Number 10 2A team in the state.

“To beat an AP top 10 team is good for Falcon athletics in general and great for women’s basketball in particular,” Pyrtek said.

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