It was a tale of two halves for South Whidbey’s boys basketball team.
The Falcons may have gotten their first win of the season with a 61-31 drubbing of Coupeville on Dec. 2, but they know that it wasn’t the type of victory they wanted.
After heavy offensive production in the first half, which led to a 36-13 halftime lead, South Whidbey lost much of its momentum in the second half. Passes were forced without assurance they would reach their man, sloppy turnovers were prevalent, and the defense slipped where it didn’t in the first half.
Being up by 23 points can do that to you.
“We took it for granted a little bit with the lead that we had,” Falcon junior wing Maxfield Friedman said. “We started to kind of just let our energy off and then we started making turnovers, bad fouls. Towards the end a little bit we got some of that back. But really in that second half, we came out and we were just a little sluggish.”
Had it not been for the stellar first half, where the Falcons were practically unstoppable against their up-island rivals, the outlook may have been different.
That’s not to say the Falcons played poorly in the second half. But they certainly didn’t play up to the caliber they set in the first half. South Whidbey outscored the Wolves by a small margin of 25-23 in the second half, though substitutes replaced the core starters near the game’s end.
While looking at the scoreboard was an easy confidence builder for the team, Falcon senior Chase White said it also led to some complacency in their playing style and approach to the competition.
“Second half, it started to get away from us execution wise,” White said. “You kind of get antsy when you’re up. You just see open opportunities, but sometimes in order to get that in those kinds of games, you have to really work on execution and slow it down and work on tempo and little things like coming off ball screens.”
After the Falcons won two preseason games over Orcas Island and Oak Harbor at the 2015 South Whidbey Jamboree, Falcon head coach Mike Washington said he wanted to see his team improve on its execution of set plays.
The Falcons did that in the first and second periods, but sputtered in the second half.
Washington said he understood that playing a lesser team, talent-wise, can have negative impacts. He said he was, at times, concerned that the Falcons’ big lead might hurt them in the long run, which proved to be true. Not only did the Falcons become complacent, but they also played a different style than Washington would have liked. The Falcons started playing what Washington called “street ball,” which was focused on getting up and down the court and playing the game from a shallow perspective rather than focused on offensive and defensive schemes and plays.
“In games like this, I want to get up and down and play, but I also want to work on our stuff,” Washington said. “Because when we play better teams, we got to be crisp. And we weren’t crisp tonight.”
Finding a way to merge the two will be a task for the Falcons moving forward. South Whidbey improved to 2-0 on the season after beating Concrete 72-33 on the road Dec. 4.
White led the Falcons in scoring in both games, tallying 21 points against Concrete and 16 against the Wolves.
Friedman was the Falcons’ second-highest scorer against Coupeville, adding 15 points with tough and physical play from midrange and underneath the hoop.
Washington named the pair co-MVPs of the Coupeville game.
“(Friedman) honestly played the best game I’ve seen him play since I’ve been here,” said the second-year Falcon coach. “He was very active on the boards and making baskets and making free throws.”
Among the positives in the win, Washington said the Falcons defended well and had solid transitions from offense to defense.
The Falcons asserted their dominance early on in the game, jumping to a 7-0 lead before the Wolves got on the board with a layup. South Whidbey continued pouring on its offense until it led by 30-9 with only a few minutes left in the first half, mostly thanks to free-throw points off fouls drawn by White and Friedman. The Falcons’ defense also threw the Wolves’ offense out of rhythm.
“I think our press sped them up a lot,” White said. “Even if we didn’t get a turnover, it did speed them up enough for them to take a quicker shot than they would have wanted.”
Friedman felt the Falcons’ efficiency moving the ball and the scoring opportunities that came from it helped South Whidbey jump to a fast start. But there’s still much to work on, such as their transition defense while in a press or points allowed on fast breaks.
“Good win, but we just got to focus hard for the next games,” he said.
The Falcons play the Turks on Wednesday, Dec. 9 in Sultan. Tip-off is at 7 p.m.