Sometimes it hurts to lose a player of Chase White’s caliber, a graduated first-team all-Cascade Conference point guard and South Whidbey’s most reliable scorer last season.
Other times it’s an opportunity. At least that’s how South Whidbey’s boys basketball team sees it.
“I feel like this year more than ever we’re going to have to rely on each other as a team,” said Maxfield Friedman, a senior. “If we don’t play as a team, we’re not going to excel like we could. We have potential, we just have to use it.”
Coming off a 9-11 overall season that fell short of the playoffs, the Falcons will look to rely on the depth of their varsity roster to carry them to victory. Conditioning, quicker tempo on offense and frequent subbing have been among the focuses during the Falcons’ first two weeks of practice, head coach Mike Washington said. While the Falcons cannot reproduce the scoring output of White with any one individual, it will be the sum of the team’s play that compensates for it.
“Some guys are thinking it’s their time to step up,” Washington said. “Offensively, that’s one way how I feel we’ll overcome that — by doing it all together.”
The philosophy has even become a mantra for the Falcons, as their team motto this season is “All One.”
“This year, it’s more even among players,” said senior Kellen Boyd. “It has to be a team effort if we want to succeed, not just give Chase White the ball and watch him score.”
Washington said that while the Falcons are preparing for a balanced offensive output from the team, there is a chance another Chase White or Parker Collins could be in the making with junior point guard Lewis Pope, who was all-league honorable mention last season.
“I’m going to heat up the pressure on him to see how he starts the season, then I’ll start relying on him more and more throughout the season to kind of gauge him,” Washington said. “He’s done a lot of offseason work.”
Washington said Pope will even need to be a little selfish with the ball, as contradictory as that sounds. He said Pope has been passive at times during his first two seasons.
“I can see the glimpses and improvements in practice and I just want translate into the game and be stronger with the ball and take it to the hoop,” Washington said.
Pope has kept a level-headed mindset on the prospects of the season. He believes the team’s effort will dictate how far they make it in the end.
“I think we have the players to do it, but I’m not going to come out and say we’re going to state,” Pope said. “That depends on how hard we want to work and how we gel together.”
The Falcons will also rely upon Friedman for his physical presence and Boyd for his smarts on the courts, Washington said.
He added that if the Falcons can improve fundamentals like communication and help defense, they won’t be far from a chance at making it to the postseason.
“I think we could be right there if things go our way,” Washington said.
The Falcons will be without one of their starters for “disciplinary” reasons when they begin the season against Concrete at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at Erickson Gym. Another player from the junior varsity team was also suspended from sports for a week.