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Riley Newman making an impact on Falcons basketball team
Inside the Cascade Conference, the buzz is all about South Whidbey’s Riley Newman.
With six games under his belt and only a sophomore, Newman has posted 89 points, 20 more than his closest league competitor, Sultan’s Jordan Nicholes.
“Newman is shooting the ball well and our guys are doing a really good job of finding him when he is open,” said Falcon coach Scott Collins. “He can really shoot the basketball and scores in a variety of ways. For a sophomore to play that well in a close game really says a lot.”
But that’s not the whole story, because Newman’s varsity teammates have contributed as well. Scott Stallman (71 points), Chris Carey (51), Adrian Cortes (29), Jeff Brasko (26) and Jordan Thornley (24) are allowing the team to dominate their opponents.
Before the 66-41 loss to Mount Vernon on Dec. 30, the team had outscored Cedar Park Christian, Interlake, Friday Harbor, Mount Baker and Tenino 282 points to 222.
The Falcons are going into league play at 5-1, far ahead of any other team. This year, the tables have been turned on traditional favorites. Archbishop Murphy is 2-3, Cedarcrest is 0-4 and Granite Falls is 1-4. Only King’s at 5-2 comes close.
The Falcons were expected to play, and beat, Coupeville on
Dec. 19 but the game was cancelled due to the winter storm. South Whidbey athletic director John Patton said the game hasn’t been rescheduled yet.
“It won’t be until some time after the winter break in January,” he said.
Newman has been playing basketball since the first grade, each year playing up one level above his age group.
“I have two hoops at home and use a regular routine nine months out of the year,” he said. “I shoot from the corners, wings and the top of the key.”
For Newman, it’s all about the discipline needed to excel. He forces himself to make five baskets in a row from each position before he moves on.
“Sometimes, it takes awhile but that’s how you improve your game,” he said.
His biggest challenge this year after moving up from the junior varsity has been to adjust to the sheer speed of events at the varsity level.
“Everything moves fast; the other players, my teammates, the ball,” he said.
Coach Collins has been supportive, but isn’t hesitant to make sure all his players understand a key fundamental.
“At the start of our second game, I had a chance to take a shot and didn’t, deciding to make a lay-up attempt that didn’t work,” Newman recalled. “Coach Collins pulled me out and told me if I have an open shot, take it.”
He said his fellow players have been supportive, passing him the ball when they see he’s in the clear.
“They all want to win just as much as I do,” Newman said. “That’s why we’re out there.”
Collins said he’s pleased with the Falcon’s performance so far.
“But I am not satisfied with where we are as a team,” he said.
“In order to move forward and make the playoffs, we still have to improve our defensive rebounding and situational awareness. However, the kids have put us in a situation to have a very successful season and we look forward to starting league play.”
The next scheduled home game for the Falcons is 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9 against the Cedarcrest Red Wolves.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.