Archbishop Murphy stays perfect with win over South Whidbey in girls hoops

South Whidbey
South Whidbey's Ashlinn Prosch drives to the hoop for two against Archbishop Murphy.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

LANGLEY - An explosive offensive outburst from Archbishop Murphy's deep bench waylaid a depleted Falcons squad as the Wildcats stayed perfect with a 58-35 win in girls basketball Tuesday night.

The win put Archbishop at 13-0 in league play (17-2 overall), while South Whidbey fell to 3-10 (3-16 overall) and out of contention for the last league playoff berth.

Alix Ericksen came off the bench and drained two three-pointers for the Wildcats, and fellow reserve Kelsy Rasmussen added five points as the two junior guards stoked a smoldering Archbishop Murphy offense in the first half.

"The spark that we got with 11 points fairly quickly off the bench was a good move for us. We need to get some kids off the bench who can come in and score," said Archbishop Murphy coach John Barhanovich.

"We're pretty open to them shooting three-pointers, because we shoot the ball fairly effectively from three-point range," he said.

The outside attack is nothing new for the Wildcats, and this time, the Falcons were the unlucky ones on the receiving end.

Unrelenting Falcon pressure inside led to Archbishop Murphy's move to the outside.

"They did a really good job of taking our post kids out of the game," Barhanovich said of the Falcons. "And so we kind of had some open looks [at threes], and we let them take it."

Falcon coach Henry Pope was proud of how his smaller squad played against the Cascade Conference powerhouse.

"We just ran out of gas," Pope said. "They got hot, we got tired."

Indeed, much of the yeoman's work fell on the shoulders of six Falcons, with Jessica Manca still out with a broken wrist and another player in Canada for an Olympic visit.

Archbishop Murphy, by contrast, has a team that runs at least nine deep.

"Any one of those kids could go for 20 points. But they choose to play team ball," Pope said. "They spread the wealth around."

"Against a team like Murphy, boy, you've got to play inside, outside, and you've got to keep that up for 32 minutes," he said. "If you do it for 20 minutes, they'll kill you in the other 12."

Archbishop Murphy jumped out to an early 7-2 lead in the game, but Cayla Calderwood brought the Falcons back into the contest with a short-range hook shot from the right side of the tin that cut the Wildcats' lead to three.

Another South Whidbey score made it a 7-6 game halfway through the first quarter, but Savannah Fletcher was on the receiving end of an air foul and the Wildcat sank one-of-two from the line to put Archbishop Murphy up 8-6.

The Falcons could pull no closer. The Wildcats went on a scoring binge and Archbishop Murphy climbed to a nine-point lead before a Falcon three-pointer cut it to 17-11.

South Whidbey finished the first strong, with Ashlinn Prosch stealing the ball and going coast-to-coast to put the score at 19-15 at the end of the first quarter.

Falcon Marina Kovic then cut the Wildcat lead to three, 23-20, early in the second.

But Archbishop Murphy was sparked by a nine-point scoring spree — with a three-pointer by Fletcher from the right side of the arc and another trey from dead center by Rasmussen — to give the visitors a 32-20 lead.

Alannah Alber answered with two for the Falcons, but the Wildcats' Ericksen drained a basket from Trey Town to put the score at 35-22.

Still, there were glimmers of hope for the Falcon faithful.

Calderwood made an impressive steal and a leaping, off-balance carnival shot that banked in and cut the Wildcats' lead to 35-24.

Archbishop Murphy kicked it outside again, though, and Ericksen stopped, popped and dropped another three-pointer to make it 38-24 at halftime.

The Wildcats outscored the Falcons 13-6 in the third, and 7-5 in the fourth, to remain undefeated in Cascade Conference play. All told, the Wildcats finished with six three-pointers in the game.

"They played us very tough," Barhanovich said of the Falcons, who have shown much improvement throughout the season. "Henry did a good job with that group. They're a little down in numbers, but they did a good job."

South Whidbey knew from the start they had their work cut out for them. Archbishop Murphy's enviable roster, defensively, means matching up on all five on the floor. No slacking on one player to double team another.

"It's hard to defend them," Pope said. "You can't cheat on nobody on Murphy. If you try to cheat on this girl, the other girl is going to hurt you. If you try to cheat on that girl, this girl is going to hurt you."

It was a tough night as coach, Pope added, because he has been coaching some of the players since seventh grade.

"The score is not indicative of how they played and how I feel about them. I love those guys," Pope said of his Falcons. "They played a good game against one of the best teams in the state."

Tuesday's contest was also senior night for South Whidbey's Alexis Brown, Calderwood, Alber and O'Sullivan. The four Falcons were honored before the start of the game.

Calderwood led all scorers with 17 points, including a three-pointer. Fellow Falcons Prosch added six, Alber scored four, Courtney Linehan and Reilly O'Sullivan had three each (O'Sullivan with a three-pointer), and Kovic, two.

The Wildcats all-around offense had 10 players who scored, with senior guard Shelby Lyman leading the pack with 16.

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