Falcons start hoops season on a slow note

LANGLEY — The South Whidbey girls basketball team dropped its first game of the year Tuesday, to Cedar Park Christian 39-29.

The Falcons led for three quarters, but fatigue set in during the fourth.

Cedar Park coach Sara Land said her young team stayed in the game and came out swinging during the final stanza.

“Once we got the jitters out, we played really well,” she said. “On defense, we were able to track the ball and deny the lanes, but I prefer games where we aren’t always trying to come from behind.”

There was a good deal of pent-up energy, and no small amount of nerves before the home crowd, as the game began.

The Falcons’ Furious Five starters on the night were Cayla Calderwood, Reilly O’Sullivan, Alannah Alber, Ashlinn Prosch and Jessica Manca. With rebounding queen Calderwood at post, the Eagles had trouble getting through, although Cedar Park’s 6-foot guard Rachel Staudacher did her best.

Alber began making shots, O’Sullivan pushed her prevent defense and Prosch powered her way down the slot to get it in the right hands in the zone.

At the first break, South Whidbey led 12-6.

A minute into the second quarter, Manca snagged the ball on a steal and threw to Alber for two, a sharp move that bodes well for the season if the girls can play that way all the time.

Eagle guard Mikaela Raschick went into man-to-man defense, covering Prosch like a clam surrounding a pearl, but Prosch was having none of it and passed the ball off in time to her teammates — the score was 18-13 at the half.

The Eagles began the third with a couple steals, but were quickly whistled for traveling, a violation that occurs when a player holding the ball illegally moves one or both of her feet or takes too many steps without dribbling. The prime offender was Cedar Park’s Staudacher, who took more steps than a finalist on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Still, she had some fine looks at the basket, but couldn’t connect. Her teammates picked up the pace, however, and the Eagles pulled within two at the final break, 27-25.

Then, with 5:10 left in the game, one of Staudacher’s shots rolled interminably around the rim, dropped through and the game was tied at 29-29.

The lead came from a foul shot, and the Eagles moved ahead, transferring to a zone defense that kept the Falcons away from the net.

They made their shots while South Whidbey’s shooters went into hibernation.

The final was 39-29.

O’Sullivan said the Eagles had a full bench and were able to substitute at a greater rate, while Prosch admitted the girls got tired in the fourth.

“We really need to be more patient and not force the ball,” Prosch added.

Falcon coach Henry Pope said that he shares a lot of the blame.

“On Tuesday, I tried to stay as low key on the sidelines as possible, and I think that had a bad effect, especially in the second half,” he said.

“It isn’t my style, and the girls picked up on that.

“I was too laid back, which isn’t like me. I should have pressured the ball more,” he said.

Calderwood led the Falcons with 12 points and 13 rebounds, Alber had 10 points and eight rebounds and Manca — though she had no points — was fierce under the net with 14 rebounds.

“And, as always, Reilly O’Sullivan was outstanding on defense,” Pope noted.

The following night, the girls were beaten 58-40 by the Interlake Saints.

South Whidbey trailed 32-9 in the first half, but managed to outscore Interlake in the second half of the non-league loss.

Calderwood led the Falcons with 14 points and 13 rebounds, Lacy Williams had seven and five rebounds and Courtney Linehan stepped up on defense with eight rebounds.

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