Early season jamborees can serve a dual purpose. South Whidbey High School’s boys basketball team, which hosted Oak Harbor and Orcas Island on Monday night, had the opportunity to play in a no-pressure atmosphere without the consequences of a blemished record. It was also a chance to work out any early season kinks.
The Falcons walked away from the mini-tournament having accomplished both, and then some.
South Whidbey defeated Orcas Island, 21-15, and Oak Harbor, 24-17. They also fleshed out communication and execution issues that had carried over from preseason practices.
“I thought (against Oak Harbor), we played better defensively,” said Falcon head coach Mike Washington. “We had a little more intensity. I would still like to see the guys get more aggressive. We gave up a couple of free offensive boards in the beginning just because we got out-toughed basically.”
Though the games were short in duration, only 10 minutes each, the Falcons were able to simulate live games.
“It was good for us to have something that really didn’t count on our record but was definitely a good simulation of what our actual games in the season feel like,” said senior guard Chase White.
White scored nine points while adding two steals and a block against Orcas Island. He increased his production against Oak Harbor, scoring 10 points, plus three defensive rebounds and three steals.
White transferred from Archbishop Murphy after playing three seasons for the Wildcats. Because White played power forward at Archbishop Murphy, a position which asks the player to be a primary rebounder and defensive force, the game has sped up now that he’s one of the Falcons primary ball handlers, he said.
“At the start of the game I was real antsy, just kind of butterflies,” White said. “But once the game got going, the game picked up to regular speed, I was good to go.”
“It feels good to be playing in front of my actual community and family and friends that in my three years at Archbishop never got to see me play, and now they’re going to see me all the time,” he added.
The Falcons shot 50 percent from the field against Orcas Island. South Whidbey jumped to an 18-6 lead before allowing the Vikings to go on an 8-3 run to finish the game. The issue, White said, was with the defense and communication.
“Our defensive look on things was kind of soft,” White said. “We weren’t really communicating on screens, they had a lot of second-chance opportunities towards the end of the game.”
White said if the Falcons had done some minor things better, such as defense communication, “helping the helper,” and boxing out, the end result might have been different.
South Whidbey started fast on offense against Oak Harbor with a 7-1 run. The Wildcats showed resilience in the form of shooting guard Dyllan Harris, who added several three-point scores as well as points on quick and aggressive layups.
Senior forward Charlie Patterson combated Harris’ impact by bringing intensity to the game off the bench. Patterson grabbed one defensive rebound and added four points on two of his three field goals.
“As a player, I know I need to know the sets better and the inbound plays,” Patterson said. “I think we can play more in unison on defense. And maybe even talk more. You never communicate enough on defense.”
Patterson said he didn’t play for the Falcons in 2014 because he wanted to focus on baseball. Washington was eager to see how he would play.
“I didn’t know if he would be a little rusty or nervous, but he got out there and he was just like the quarterback on the football team; he was getting up and down the court,” Washington said. “He’s so quick and he’s able to get by people and he’s really good at finishing.”
The Falcons battled the Wildcats possession by possession until they reached a comfortable lead of 21-14 after a three-pointer by sophomore guard Lewis Pope.
Falcon junior wing Maxfield Friedman sealed the game when he was fouled after scoring two points on a layup.
Major mistakes by the Falcons were few but memorable. White said he took responsibility for some of the communication problems due to mixing up some Falcon offensive plays.
“Trying to get it all figured out and work out kinks,” White said. “Tonight was good for that.”
Washington said the Falcons’ execution is the biggest factor that will need to be addressed moving forward.
“We didn’t run our sets or our offense that well tonight, but again, it’s the first day, it’s the first game,” Washington said. “The flow will come. We’ve just got to stick with the system.”