The Falcon girls basketball team gave their coach and fans quite a scare Friday night.
They still beat Lakewood 55-44, but their apparent third quarter meltdown guaranteed nobody left before the final buzzer.
Despite typical early-game jitters, it seemed the girls could set the dial on cruise control — at the first break the score was 14-2.
In the second, Falcon Coach Henry Pope ordered a full-court press that baffled the Cougars; the unexpected tactic caught them by surprise.
At one point, Lakewood kept the ball under their net with no score for almost two minutes — Cougar Coach Chris Walster could only watch in despair.
After overwhelming the Cougars for a 26-13 halftime lead — Lakewood only got their second basket midway through the second period — by eight minutes into the third quarter, the game was tied 30-30.
“We dropped our guard a bit,” admitted junior Erica Johnson. “We got a little too ahead of ourselves, too relaxed.”
Freshman Cayla Calderwood agreed.
“We sort of became a little cocky and let down too much,” she said.
Coupled with South Whidbey’s misplaced overconfidence, Cougar forward Aly Stewart began making her layups and added a couple of three-pointers while guard Anna Work helped scuttle any quick Falcon comeback.
It would have been worse if Lauren Sandri hadn’t stepped in.
“Lauren did an amazing job on defense just when we needed it,” Calderwood said.
When Pope realized his substitution policy may have been flawed, he sent his starters back on the boards. Sandri, Lindsey Newman, Allison Wood, Samantha Pope and Calderwood combined to wrest the Falcons back from the brink.
“I want to have as many kids as possible get the chance to play,” Coach Pope said. “The more they play, the better they get. But I don’t want to jeopardize our chance for a win.”
Calderwood said that, despite the victory, the team had mixed feelings when it was over.
“We all knew we shouldn’t have let them get back in the game. The coach made some good decisions but we weren’t carrying them out right,” she said.
Calderwood is happy to get a chance to play at the varsity level. “It’s fast and you really have to keep your head in the game and stay focused.”
In the end, the girls broke a four-game losing streak; they are now 3-4 in the league and 6-7 overall.
“It felt good to be on the winning side again,” Johnson said.
Newman scored 25 points, made 14 rebounds and picked up seven steals, Samantha Pope had 10 points and seven rebounds and Calderwood added seven points and 10 rebounds on the night.
On Friday, Jan. 26, the girls travel to their second game with Coupeville, then welcome Cedarcrest to Erikson Gym on Feb. 2.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.