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Falcons wrap up best hoops season ever
The most successful Falcons boys basketball season since 1992 — 13 wins and eight losses — is history.
The end came at Squalicum on Saturday with a 57-44 loss to Archbishop Murphy in the second District 1 playoff game.
“It was a very long season, but the coach said we had done a great job and he couldn’t ask for better players,” said Falcon Riley Newman. “It was good to hear that.”
The Falcons were hot out of the gate and kept the pace alive in the first quarter and were down by only a point 11-10 at the break.
But J.J. Quinlan, Murphy’s top scorer, took advantage of scoring opportunities in the second quarter and the Wildcats moved ahead by six at the half, 22-16.
“We had problems scoring in the second and, with ATM, you have to play well all four periods,” said Falcon Jeff Brasko.
Both teams scored 13 in the third but Quinlan and company drove hard in the fourth, outscoring the Falcons by seven for the 57-44 final score.
“They’re a solid team,” Newman said. “They don’t make many turnovers. I think we spent too much time standing around when we should have boxed them out and prevented those second-chance points inside the paint.”
Scott Stallman led South Whidbey with 13 points; Newman added 12; Kyle West had 6; Brasko and Chris Carey had five apiece and Jordan Thornley contributed three. Quinlan posted 16 to lead all scorers.
South Whidbey players vowed to be ready for next year’s campaign.
Brasko is graduating, but Newman said he plans to spend some serious time playing in the off-season.
“There’s a bunch of us seniors who are going to get together in the gym, maybe enter some tournaments,” Newman said. “We have to work hard if we want to take our game to the next level.”
Falcons coach Scott Collins said off-season practice will hand the keys to the kingdom to South Whidbey basketball players.
“Hopefully our younger kids learned that they have to become basketball players, not kids that play basketball,” he said. “There is a big difference in those two statements. Burlington-Edison kids are good athletes and basketball players and it’s hard to compete with a team like that.
“Murphy has good athletes but they aren’t basketball players. Where you gain a competitive advantage is when you get kids that commit to becoming good basketball players. That involves going to open gyms in the off-season, doing an individual workout that involves shooting and ball handling and doing this on their own time.”
Collins felt he coached a better team than last year and that was an important step to take for the program.
“As a team this year, we shot over 40 percent from the three-point line,” Collins said. “That’s an accomplishment to be proud of. We also worked on playing basketball more, becoming more comfortable playing 5-on-5 and our scoring improved by three points per game from last season.
“I was really pleased with Scott Stallman,” Collins said of his senior starter, who finished the year with 246 total points. “He had a very solid season for us and was a great team leader.”
Next year, Collins said the team will emphasize defense and being able to get stops when not scoring.
“We had a great start to the season, 7-2 and that helped carry us throughout the year,” Collins said. “Riley Newman is a very special player, but he needs a mid-range pull-up jumper, he needs to get a little stronger and learn to shoot the ball squared at the hoop all the time. When he does, he will really be able to score.”
Overall, scoring improved this season, averaging 54.6 points per game, up 13 points from two years ago. Part of that was due to Newman, who finished with 333 points total, third in the league.
“That’s something that the seniors should really take pride in,” Collins said. “So while I’m proud of the efforts, I am disappointed in the commitment level that our kids have shown in the off-season. Hopefully, that will change.”