Starting the season 0-3 wasn’t exactly in the Falcon boys basketball team’s script.
Amid a three-game losing streak heading into Cascade Conference play, South Whidbey lost with identical 55-45 scores to Seattle Academy and Friday Harbor. One of the Falcon co-captains hung his hat on the fact that South Whidbey has held each of its opponents this season to under 60 points.
“We’re keeping great teams to scores where we want them to be,” said Falcon senior Brandon Asay. “If we can consistently keep teams to under 60, once we get our offense working, we’ll be winning more games.”
The long boat ride to Friday Harbor yielded little return for South Whidbey on Saturday. South Whidbey played without one of its starters, senior CJ Sutfin, and struggled from the tipoff. Wolverine senior C.J. Woods carried the Wolverines early in the game, scoring eight points in the first quarter.
“They came out a lot more intense than we did, and they took advantage of that,” Asay said.
By halftime, Friday Harbor owned a 30-22 lead that South Whidbey did not retake.
Out of the break, South Whidbey made back-to-back shots to trim the score to 30-27, one basket from a tie. But the Wolverines tore off a 17-3 run to end the third quarter leading 47-30.
“If you’re not making shots, it doesn’t matter how well you’re playing defense,” said Falcon head coach Scott Collins.
The Falcons tried to rally with three-point shooting, usually led by Asay and Sutfin, in the second half. Missing Sutfin, Asay launched a barrage of shots and sank six three-pointers to lead all scorers with 22 points. But it wasn’t enough.
“By then, it was too late,” Asay said.
Despite leading the way against the Wolverines, Asay was held in check against Seattle Academy in the Friday night game, another 55-45 loss, though that game was at South Whidbey High School.
The Seattle Academy Cardinals broke out from a 10-9 deficit in the first quarter to lead 24-17 by halftime. In the third quarter, Seattle Academy ran away to a 41-28 lead that was enough of a cushion to withstand a 17-point fourth quarter by South Whidbey.
Asay pegged the offense’s slow start to Falcon shooters’ inability to get decent looks from the perimeter. That led to junior Parker Collins wracking up a game-high tying 18 points, though only five Falcons scored in the game.
Still without an identified point guard, the Falcons had not dug themselves into a hole with turnovers. By limiting lost possessions, South Whidbey has relied on its defense to stop the other team or steal the ball to generate its offense.
Against Friday Harbor and Seattle Academy, South Whidbey recorded 20 blocks and 13 steals. Asay had six blocks against the Wolverines, but that number may be higher as South Whidbey’s camera ran out of battery power in the third quarter leaving coaches without a video record. Collins said his leading scorer had at least three more in the final period.
The Falcons played without Sutfin, freshman Cody Russell and senior Nick French, who is nursing a knee injury and will likely return in January.
South Whidbey opened Cascade Conference play against King’s, a fellow 1A school, on Tuesday. The Falcons need to finish in the top two of three 1A teams in the conference to advance to the postseason.