South Whidbey girls pick up first win of the season

Falcon Reilly O’Sullivan defends the ball against Friday Harbor’s Mandy  Turnbull during Saturday’s 50-37 win over the Wolverines. - David Welton / The Record
Falcon Reilly O’Sullivan defends the ball against Friday Harbor’s Mandy Turnbull during Saturday’s 50-37 win over the Wolverines.
— image credit: David Welton / The Record

Oh, how sweet it was. Even if few were there to see it.

The South Whidbey girls basketball team won its first game of the season before a sparse crowd in Erikson Gym Saturday, beating Friday Harbor 50-37.

“The girls played hard and we got the win,” said Falcon coach Henry Pope. “It was great.”

The Friday Harbor girls showed an aggressive spirit, if not shooting ability, but they managed to keep the Falcons off the scoreboard until 6:25 in the first quarter, when Lindsey Newman picked up a free-throw point to make it 1-0.

Wolverine Brooke Jangard was key to Friday Harbor’s offense, but her supporting cast was found wanting for the most part.

It was a slow-moving game for both teams, however, as the Falcons didn’t get into double digits until 42 seconds were left in the first period; the score was 10-6 when the buzzer ended the first quarter.

The pace quickened when Newman rebounded in the second period and fired a long pass to freshman Jessica Manca, whose layup managed to roll through for the score, now 14-8. The move showed serious promise for the team’s future, as did a three-pointer by Newman and a quick double steal from Taylor Pope.

Brilliant defensive play from Reilly O’Sullivan and some fast breaks from Chantal LaChaussee kept the Wolverines at bay, but both teams eventually recovered from their scoring funk to move the score to 28-22 at the half.

Both sides were determined to kick things up a notch and the action increased as the Wolverines started to make inroads The score was 39-30 at the end of the third quarter. But the Falcons kept their poise and, just as important, their lead as the game wound to its conclusion and South Whidbey won, 50-37.

To no one’s surprise, the sure-handed Newman dominated the scoring, racking up 27 points, 11 of which came from offensive rebounds.

But the 5-foot-10 Manca was a force to be reckoned with all afternoon as she fought, dove, scrambled and fast-breaked her way on the court.

“She knows she needs to understand the flow of varsity games plus improve her shots, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes,” Pope said.

“It was fun to win on the home court,” Manca said. “But I know I’ve got a shooting problem and I plan to work on that next week.”

LaChaussee said it all came together for the team.

“We stuck with it, had excellent defense and kept our endurance up,” she said. “It’s all good.”

Coach Pope said the emphasis in practice will be shot selection and overall shooting.

“As a team we were 13-of-26 on the free-throw line and only made 29 percent of our shots,” he said. “We have some heavy- caliber teams on the horizon and those numbers aren’t going to cut it.”

He noted that Newman continues to be triple-teamed and the defensive pressure will continue in the games ahead. On the bright side, injured South Whidbey players Samantha Pope and Alannah Alber are expected to be back in the next week or two.

Newman posted 27 points, O’Sullivan had eight, Manca six and Ashlinn Prosch five. Taylor Pope had two but led in offensive assists with five.

The Falcons travel to Nooksack Monday, then welcome the Tenino Beavers to Erikson Gym at noon Saturday, Dec. 13.

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