South Whidbey survives Nooksack Valley scare

Chandler Sutton, a Falcon junior, jumps past a Nooksack Valley player to the hoop Wednesday in a 1A District 1 boys basketball tournament game.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Chandler Sutton, a Falcon junior, jumps past a Nooksack Valley player to the hoop Wednesday in a 1A District 1 boys basketball tournament game.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

The Falcons got down, and then they got up in a 74-64 win over the Nooksack Valley Pioneers on Wednesday, Feb. 12.

South Whidbey’s boys basketball team overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half, a gasp-inducing knee injury to one of its senior starters, cut the lead to seven points by halftime and took the lead early in the third quarter on a pump-fake layup by junior Chandler Sutton.

Looking to run, Falcon senior Brandon Asay won the tipoff and found senior Kale Reichersamer for a quick layup. Reichersamer followed the basket with a steal and a drive to the hoop, but after missing the contested shot, he fell to the court grasping his right knee and yelling. Two teammates carried him off the court — he was later seen walking around but did not return to the game.

With nothing to lose, the winless Nooksack Valley squad came out firing. The team scored six three-pointers in the first half and finished and relied on its 6-foot 5-inch senior post Seth Taron to take a 38-31 lead by the halftime break.

“They had 38 first-half points,” Asay said. “And that’s not acceptable, especially from a team that hasn’t won a game all season.

“I didn’t want this to be my last basketball game.”

Determined to stay alive in the 1A District 1 playoffs, South Whidbey switched its plans from a zone defense to man-to-man coverage, enabling the Falcons to close out on the Pioneers’ perimeter players faster. It worked: Nooksack Valley only hit two more three-pointers the rest of the game, while South Whidbey surged ahead behind dribble-drive layups and spot-up three-pointers.

Out of the break, South Whidbey went for broke as Falcon junior Parker Collins drilled a corner three. After trading a couple of empty possessions, the Falcons went on an 8-0 run, including a pair of layups and a free throw by Sutton and a three-pointer from senior Nick French.

“We didn’t struggle with offense at any point in the game,” Asay said. “We had to stop them defensively. That’s what got us ahead.”

Neither team got ahead for long through the third quarter.

South Whidbey seized its chance on a three-point play in the fourth quarter. Falcon senior CJ Sutfin drove to his left, hoisted up a layup and watched it swirl through as he was fouled for an extra free throw, which he sank for a 53-50 lead that sent the Falcon student section into a frenzy.

South Whidbey was able to extend its lead to double digits in the final two minutes and sealed the game at the free-throw line, going 9-for-12.

The Falcons faced a familiar opponent Friday, Feb. 14 in the Friday Harbor Wolverines. Earlier in the season, also at Friday Harbor High School, the Wolverines won 55-45. Since then, however, the Falcons’ roster has added Sutton and French and found more potency in its offense.

Whichever team won that game was guaranteed a spot in the tri-district tournament that begins Feb. 19.


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