South Whidbey dodges a bullet in home opener

Falcon Chris Carey looks to make a pass inside during South Whidbey’s narrow 50-47 victory Thursday. Carey led the team with 14 points. The Falcons welcome Friday Harbor today at noon; the girls game follows right after.  - Jeff VanDerford / The Record
Falcon Chris Carey looks to make a pass inside during South Whidbey’s narrow 50-47 victory Thursday. Carey led the team with 14 points. The Falcons welcome Friday Harbor today at noon; the girls game follows right after.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford / The Record

In the end, experience counted. Big time.

The South Whidbey boys basketball team beat the Interlake Saints

50-47 Thursday in their first home game.

The Saints were never ahead, but they came really close as the overconfident Falcons lost their edge in the third period.

Drawing first blood was Adrian Cortes, who forced the tip-off to Chris Carey, who fired to Scott Stallman and then back to Cortes, who was fouled under the net.

Cortes made the free throw and the boys were off to the races, 1-0.

Carey, who picked up 14 on the night, kept the ball rolling, assisted by superlative defense from Cortes, Stallman and Riley Newman.

The Saints had a clear advantage in height but not speed, nor were they able to manage the ball well as the faster Falcons swooped over and under to repeatedly steal the ball.

South Whidbey closed the quarter leading 15-11.

Stallman, Brasko and Carey kept things moving along in the second as Saint errors piled up. One key play found Newman stealing the ball and throwing to Carey who missed the attempt; Stallman recovered the ball, made the extra effort, and scored three.

South Whidbey was ahead 24-18 at the half; it seemed like smooth sailing for South Whidbey, but any fans who left missed the boat entirely.

The Saints came out energized, making their shots at will as the Falcon defense sputtered.

“We just didn’t have the same enthusiasm when we came back out,” Carey said later. “I guess we got overconfident.”

With 1:59 left in the third, Interlake had moved within two points. But returning varsity vets Stallman, Brasko and Carey woke up to spark a resurgent Falcon offense and the score stood at 31-26 when the fourth quarter began.

The Saints, desperate for a win, became more aggressive and the foul rate on both sides escalated. Cortes and Newman rose to the occasion with some fine defense, but Cortes’ inexperience allowed his emotions to take control and he ended with five personal fouls, allowing four unearned points for Interlake.

“I let my mouth run away from me and got called by the refs,” Cortes said. “I’m sure the coach will have some advice for me about that.”

With 44 seconds on the clock, the score was 46-45 and it seemed an overtime finish was possible.

Ten seconds later, Carey was fouled and picked up two, the Saints followed with two, then Brasko got tripped, made his throw and the buzzer finally sounded, icing the scoring with the Falcons in front, 50-47.

Falcon coach Scott Collins chalked up the good and the bad. The boys were 21-of-25 from the free throw line, there were six offensive rebounds and good clutch shooting at game’s end.

On the downside, he admitted that 16 turnovers were too many, too many forced shots were taken, there were too many missed block-outs and way too many defensive fouls.

That being said, Collins was pleased.

“I thought our kids did a really nice job the last two minutes of the game knocking down free throws and not turning the ball over,” he noted. “For an early-season game, I think they learned a valuable lesson tonight; if you let a team hang around long enough, anything can happen.”

Collins added that pre-conference games are important to give the

coaching staff a report on areas that the team needs to work on.

“It’s great to get a win and still have plenty of teaching moments to talk about and work on at practice. This game was something the community and the

kids can be proud of, as ugly as it was.”

Carey led with 14 points, Newman had 11, Stallman picked up eight, Cortes seven and Brasko six.

At noon today, the boys welcome

Friday Harbor, followed by the girls game.

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