South Whidbey boys basketball’s five-game winning streak came to an end this past week. Now they’ve suffered twp straight losses.
The Falcons lost to Archbishop Murphy 64-51 at home on Dec. 12, followed by a 65-52 defeat to Bellevue Christian on Dec. 15. South Whidbey (5-2 overall, 2-1 Cascade Conference) plays Oak Harbor (0-7 overall) away tonight at 7:15 p.m.
The Falcons entered their game against Archbishop Murphy with the program’s best start to a season in at least the past eight years. They were 5-0, having experienced a mix of close wins and staggering victories — from their 59-57 season-opening victory over Mount Baker on Nov. 30 to a 73-12 drubbing of Coupeville on Dec. 9. They had done so with a cadre of youth in the starting lineup.
Save for senior Lewis Pope and junior Kody Newman, the rest are sophomores with little to no varsity experience.
The players were admittedly overconfident coming into their game against Archbishop Murphy (4-3 overall, 2-1 Cascade Conference), and it ended up hurting their chances of keeping the winning streak alive.
“I think we just had too big of a head,” sophomore Carson Wrightson said.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 16-2 lead before the Falcons had a chance to blink in the first quarter. The Wildcats were big, athletic, quick and physical, according to head coach Mike Washington, which were traits they used to their advantage.
“I think they were just a lot more physical than we anticipated,” sophomore Dexter Jokinen added.
A three-point score by Jokinen helped ignite a comeback and an 11-2 run. The Falcons, however, played from behind the rest of the game and were never able to recover.
“I felt we became frustrated during the game, causing us to turn the ball over, miss defensive assignments and at times miss the open player on the offensive end,” Washington said.
Making matters worse, South Whidbey inadvertently played at Archbishop Murphy’s pace instead of its own. While Archbishop Murphy plays fast and hard, the Falcons prefer a methodical and slower approach.
“They’re a fast-break team,” said Pope, who led the Falcons with 23 points. “If we have a fast-break, we can take it. But, we want to have time to set up our offense and run through it.”
Washington embraced the loss as a chance for the team to learn.
“Sometimes losses are good because when you win, those same flaws are not viewed the same,” Washington said. “We learned that we have to fight through adversity.”
It’s taken a few games for underclassmen like Wrightson and Jokinen to get settled. They were nervous at the beginning of the season and apprehensive about the speed of the game. Slowly but surely they’ve adjusted to varsity play and have actually surprised themselves on a few occasions.
“It kind of opened my eyes to see what us younger kids can kind of do,” said Wrightson, who was second on the team in scoring against Archbishop Murphy with 12 points. “We were always kind of scared to play at the varsity level. But, now we’re kind of more like, ‘We can do this.’”
Wrightson said there’s some pressure that goes along with his role as the Falcons’ post.
“I’m being asked to go against some pretty big senior posts that definitely have some bodyweight on me and strength,” Wrightson said. “It’s pretty nerve-racking, but you just got to push through it.”
Bellevue Christian (7-0 overall) pushed past the Falcons on Dec. 15 despite Pope and Newman scoring 23 and 22 points, respectively.
The Falcons play Marysville-Getchell on the road Friday night before heading to San Diego for the Surf n’ Slam Hoop Classic.