It was a six-second play that South Whidbey junior Lewis Pope won’t forget anytime soon.
Trailing Cedar Park Christian 63-62 with 19 seconds left to go in overtime, Pope charged through the Eagles’ defense and converted a layup on the right side of the hoop. Cedar Park Christian had just 13 seconds left to respond to the one-point deficit.
South Whidbey senior Maxfield Friedman made sure the Eagles’ effort wasn’t fruitful when he stopped one of Cedar Park Christian’s attempts to penetrate the Falcons’ defense dead in its tracks. The Eagles managed to take a last second shot in the hopes of adding one last piece of drama to an already heart-pumping game, but to no avail.
The Falcons won 64-63.
Pope, who led the Falcons with 25 points, said he had felt both nervous and excited with the basketball in his hands. He was mostly just having a good time on the court though.
“That’s why you’re out here practicing everyday so you can have those moments,” Pope said. “That was pretty fun.”
Following a 54-32 win over Granite Falls on Jan. 6 and a 64-61 loss to Cedarcrest on Jan. 7, South Whidbey is 5-7 overall and 3-2 in the Cascade Conference.
Perhaps most important about the Falcons’ win against Cedar Park Christian was the fact that South Whidbey is now 2-0 versus opponents in the league’s class 1A division. South Whidbey beat Sultan 61-47 on Dec. 6.
In other words, the Falcons are that much closer to fulfilling their goal of hosting a district playoff game.
“It was a really good win because we’re fighting (Cedar Park Christian) and Sultan for a playoff spot,” Washington said. “It put us in a good position and let us know that, ‘Hey, we can play with better teams.’ We just have to continue to learn how to execute down the stretch.”
The top three teams from the Cascade Conference’s class 1A division will advance to the district tournament on Feb. 6. King’s has the top spot all but locked up at 5-0 in league and 10-2 overall. South Whidbey, Cedar Park Christian and Sultan are duking it out for the other two berths, one of which would be a home playoff game against the third-best team from the Northwest Conference.
It was the second overtime game of the season for the Falcons, but the first they walked away from as victors. South Whidbey lost to Port Townsend 62-60 in overtime on Dec. 19.
Washington said the Falcons’ execution down the stretch, both offensively and defensively, made the difference.
“I’m happy with the second half effort,” Washington said. “I just felt like in the first half they were intimidated a little bit. From the first bounce, I could tell they had more effort, more energy and stuff then we did.”
Washington said that senior Maxfield Friedman, who scored 14 points, was instrumental in the second half for his role in sparking energy in the Falcons. He also scored on a “baseline drive” with little time remaining in the regulation to send the game to overtime.
Friedman said that during halftime, Washington pointed out that the Eagles were simply putting more effort into the game. Friedman took it to heart.
“I know in the first half, our effort wasn’t really on par with them,” Friedman said. “When we came back in the second half, we just started playing really well as a team. Things started to click, and once that happened, our defense turned up, our offense turned up, and that just helped get the ‘W.’ ”
To clinch a chance to host a playoff game will require the Falcons to continue playing well when it counts, Washington said.
“Lewis was saying it today at school, ‘Anybody can beat anybody on any given night,’ ” Washington said. “So we’ve got to come ready to play. My job is going to be to prepare these guys for every game.”
The Falcons played King’s on Tuesday night after The Record’s deadline. South Whidbey’s next home game is against on Cedarcrest at 6:45 p.m. on Jan. 17.