South Whidbey’s seventh-grade boys S.W.I.S.H. basketball team didn’t finish the 2016 season the way they hoped.
South Whidbey was eliminated from its league championship on March 5 at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon after two losses to teams they beat in the regular season. South Whidbey entered the tournament having finished second in the Baker Division league with a 7-1 record, which qualified the team for the state tournament in Spokane, though they opted not to go because of travel costs.
South Whidbey was upset by third-seed and eventual champion Sultan 42-34 in the first-round of the tournament. The loss took the collective sails out of the boys’ spirits, South Whidbey head coach Adam Lind said. They faced an even bigger upset when they lost to Ferndale, 37-33 in overtime, in the consolation bracket which ended their season.
Ben Lind, Adam’s son, was disappointed with the team’s showing at the tournament. He felt the game’s early start time of 9 a.m. may have been a factor in the losses, as it was earlier than they were accustomed to. Sultan’s victory over South Whidbey was aided by a large spree of points in the fourth quarter. South Whidbey was unable to respond with points of its own, which ultimately was the turning point, Adam Lind said.
“They’re a pretty strong team,” Adam Lind said. “Their record didn’t reflect it.”
It was much the same story against Ferndale. South Whidbey was ahead for most of the game until Ferndale made a run late in the contest. South Whidbey successfully tied the game to force overtime, but Ferndale emerged as the victors.
“We just came out flat,” Adam Lind said. “They were disappointed from the first loss.”
“The boys played really hard, I’m really proud of them. They fought in both games, they fought really hard. We probably should have and could have won both games,” he added.
South Whidbey had beaten both Sultan and Ferndale during the regular season, so it came as a bit of a shock for Ben Lind. He said he was proud of the team and the season they had, but couldn’t help but shake his dismay with how it ended.
“We beat (Ferndale) in the regular season so I think we should have beat that team,” Ben Lind said. “We should have made it to the championship.”
“I think it was sort of our fault a little bit. We just weren’t playing well,” he added.
Ben Lind felt that other than the team’s performance at the league championships and a regular season loss to Lakewood, it was a successful season.
“I learned a lot about how good we were,” Ben Lind said.
Adam Lind highlighted players Carl Henry Chapman, Brent Batchelor and Trustin Betteker as top performers during the tournament, and added that all of the players progressed in some shape or form. He was also proud of sixth-graders Anthony Weaver and Jacob Eng for keeping up with players above their age.
“It’s going to be fun watching this group of kids as they progress through high school,” Lind said. “They’re really improving and they have a good core South Whidbey should be proud of. It was my pleasure and honor to coach these guys.”