To the surprise of many, the South Whidbey girls basketball team is in second place in the Cascade Conference standings, undefeated at 2-0 with an overall record of 5-3.
The girls beat the Coupeville Wolves (0-2, 3-4 overall) 56-52 for their first win of the new year on Tuesday night during a wind-delayed makeup game at home in Erikson Gym.
Coupled with their 79-60 trouncing of Sultan on Dec. 19, the team is in a strong position to qualify for a playoff berth. Tonight at 7 p.m., the Falcons are at Cedarcrest (0-0, 1-3 overall).
Their first real test comes Jan. 12, however, when they play league-leader Granite Falls at home.
It took more than three minutes for Coupeville to pick up their first score in Tuesday’s contest.
Though it appeared things would go downhill from there, the Wolves picked themselves back up and fought to the last minute. In fact, they were never more than five to seven points behind and actually outscored South Whidbey by four in the third period.
“They showed some serious tenacity on the court and my hat’s off to them,” Falcons Coach Henry Pope said.
He also cast a critical eye over his own team’s performance.
“Yes, a win is always good, but I think we were playing too much down to their level,” he said. “The girls usually play against opponents that are quicker and more agile on the court and we didn’t adjust as fast as I’d like to see.”
The South Whidbey squad eventually just outhustled their opponents and that — combined with fine shooting from junior Erica Johnson (a career-high 23 points) and sophomore Lindsey Newman — propelled the Falcons to the win.
Johnson spotted four three-pointers (out of six for the night) in the fourth period, delighting fans, teammates and her coach.
“It doesn’t take long for teams to zero in on the player making all the baskets and we worked on that in practice. Erica broke out and it was certainly good to have someone step up besides Lindsey,” Pope said.
“It was a nice change and means future games won’t rely on just one player,” he said.
The night’s dynamic duo was ably assisted on defense by Lauren Sandri, Samantha Pope and Natalie Martinovic.
Newman finished with 17 points and nine rebounds and was nine-for-16 at the free-throw line. Pope and Sandri had six points apiece, and Teah Wanamaker and Allison Wood added two each. The Falcons outrebounded the Wolves 22 to 15.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.