Though no one knew it yet, when Sultan’s Morgan Thomas hit a three-pointer to start scoring for the Turks Tuesday, it was an unfortunate sign of things to come.
Sultan decisively beat the South Whidbey girl’s team 63-39 before a dispirited home crowd for two reasons — great shooting by the Lady Turks coupled with poor defensive pressure by the Falcons.
Sultan maintained a huge advantage with their outside shooting skills all night long, notably Thomas, Megan Drawsky and Cassie Beucherie — each clearly identified by the “Lady Turk” on their jerseys.
From the get-go, it seemed the Falcons were a bit edgy, a little bowled over by Sultan’s speed down court. Thomas continually evaded Lindsey Newman’s best efforts.
Cayla Calderwood’s fast break and layup helped in the first period but the score was already 17-7 at the first break.
“Sultan had a good game plan that offered their girls some very good looks at the net,” Falcon coach Henry Pope said. “We needed a strong man-to-man defensive game and came up short. Someone needs to step up and penetrate, handcuff the forward and stop the shot.”
The Turks made 20 points on the inside and that, coupled with their six treys, made the difference.
Another key indicator of Sultan success was the ability to adjust to court conditions. The Turks never hesitated to deviate from the plan if it meant taking, and usually making, the shot.
Conversely, the South Whidbey girls always went for the inside even when presented with an outside opportunity beyond the key.
Falcon Chantal LaChaussee showed what was possible — halfway through the second quarter she halted her fast break and let loose for three — and caught the Turks completely off guard.
But that play was the exception, not the rule, for the Falcons.
The score at the half was 33-24; South Whidbey was still keeping pace after a flurry of shots, despite Drawsky’s last second three pointer.
In the second half, the Turks slowly pulled away — racking up another 30 points to South Whidbey’s 17 — as the Falcons made costly mistakes, some inexcusable such as their trouble managing the 30-second clock.
With a 27-point lead, Sultan coach Rodney Walker called a time out with just two ticks left.
“I told the girls to remember that when we meet next year,” Pope said.
Newman and Calderwood made 18 and 11 points, but then Falcon scoring dropped off a cliff. Six Turks scored seven or more points to bring the final to 63-39.
Pope said the team would have to go back to the drawing board after the loss.
“Beefing up the defense and shooting will be on the table,” he said. “And I’m going to take over the warm-up schedule to make sure the girls get their game face on before the tip-off.”
The girls travel to Cedarcrest and Kings before welcoming Granite Falls to Erikson Gym on Feb. 8.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.