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Falcons fend off Wolves' rally
Another notable chapter was added to the long-standing island rivalry between South Whidbey and Coupeville boys basketball teams Tuesday night.
South Whidbey won 62-51 after a late-game scare.
Coupeville rallied from a 20-point deficit to within five points in the final three minutes. The Falcons found their footing and converted their final six free throws — salvaging an otherwise poor free throw shooting night for South Whidbey, which hit 11 of 21 — as the Wolves tried to stop the clock with fouls.
“It was stressful, but that felt good,” said Falcon senior CJ Sutfin.
Winning the rivalry game secured South Whidbey’s playoff berth and was made even sweeter, literally, when a cake was brought out afterward to celebrate Sutfin’s 18th birthday. However, the cake came after a whipped cream pie was tossed in his face at center court.
“It tasted good, so that’s what I’m happy about,” said Sutfin, who scored nine points in the contest, all in the first half.
Not everything was sugar and spice and other things nice. It was a rivalry game with playoffs on the line, and play was physical. Players were fouled, hard at times, hitting the court back first. Sutfin was assessed a technical foul in the third quarter after complaining to a referee for a perceived missed call. The ensuing free throws brought Coupeville (1-10 Cascade Conference, 2-13 overall) within 10 points of the lead to end the period.
“In the end, we just slacked a little bit,” Sutfin said. “We were too confident.”
It was the first of what would be two technical fouls called on Falcon players. The other came as Coupeville was charging back from a double-digit deficit late in the game. Falcon junior Chandler Sutton was whistled for the foul with 1:30 left in the game and South Whidbey ahead 56-49. Sutton drove to the rim, through some contact from the Wolves, and missed his shot. As he came down, he appeared to say something at the game official and was immediately given the technical foul.
“Both teams are physical,” Sutfin said of the feisty nature of the game. “We have our problems, but we play hard and we got the good win.”
Visions of Coupeville’s last-second, buzzer-beater, game-winning basket a few seasons ago were brought up before the game. The Falcon seniors were freshmen the last time the Wolves won at South Whidbey, and many watched that from the student section.
“I was terrified for a little bit,” Sutfin said of the waning minutes as Coupeville cut the lead to just five points.
Sutton’s foul gave Coupeville two free throws and possession, though it was all for naught. Both free throws were missed, and Falcon senior Brandon Asay blocked a would-be layup. From there, the Falcons closed out the game at the free-throw line behind junior Parker Collins, Asay and senior Nate Hanson.
“Once we got to five points, we got a little better with free throws,” said Collins, who scored a game-high 18 points.
Through the final 2:54 seconds of the game, South Whidbey allowed only two points while scoring eight.
Outside shooting proved a mighty weapon for the Falcons, who sank five three-point baskets to Coupeville’s two.
The 1A District 1 tournament begins at 7 p.m. Feb. 10, with South Whidbey (3-7 Cascade Conference, 4-12 overall) slated for a home game.
South Whidbey has to finish in the top four to advance to the tri-district tournament — the state qualifier — from Feb. 19-22.