It shouldn’t have ended this way.
The South Whidbey boys basketball squad led Archbishop Murphy pretty much all night Wednesday in Erikson Gym and though the Wildcats were on the prowl in the fourth period, it should have been a Falcon win.
It didn’t turn out that way. Archbishop Murphy tipped in a missed shot with two ticks left and South Whidbey was on the short end of the 40-39 score as the buzzer sounded.
Maybe it was the strange beginning — senior Chad Anderson got smacked in the nose during the pre-game introductions so Falcon Coach Andy Davis had to send in a substitute for the starting line-up. Then Eric Stallman was sidelined by two quick fouls before most of the large crowd found their seats.
“Two of our primary ball handlers were out of the picture right at the start,” Davis said. “They returned later and played at their usual high level.”
Regardless, both teams were evenly matched, play was clean and fast-paced — ATM scored first but Kyle Asay matched it with a trey and it was 9-7 after the first quarter.
The Falcon defense, especially Scott Stallman, Parker Barnett, Blake Blakey and Scott Stallman kept the team in the race.
The Falcons were down by two at the half but a spunky offense — Anderson, Barnett, Stallman and Blakey, notably — in the third put South Whidbey four to eight points ahead; the Falcons led 34-29 as the fourth quarter began.
Gradually, the Wildcats caught up. But it was hard to gauge if they were stepping up or the Falcons were running out of steam; passing got sloppy and shooting began to suffer as well.
“They forced some key turnovers late in the game, but I don’t think we were getting tired. The crowd was a big help,” Blakey said.
The Falcons were in front by three with 3:21 left in the game. But Wildcat forward JD Melton was fouled and picked up two.
“They were making some clutch free throws, and it hurt us,” Barnett said.
The game was even at 37-37 when Falcon Adam Hosmer fouled Ryan Bourk and Bourk was good for one from the line to put the Wildcats up 38-37.
An immediate ATM foul, however, sent Blakey to the line and he hit both clutch baskets.
“The other guys relaxed me,” Blakey recalled. “I felt calm on both shots.”
But ATM wasn’t through just yet. They moved the ball down court with great speed and tried to score before the buzzer by taking it hard to the rack.
“We had the chance to win,” said Adam Hosmer. “That guy (Wildcat guard Nick Anderson) missed the layup, tried again and it tipped in.”
Barnett agreed. “We assumed Blake’s point would do it, the last shot. We were surprised.”
Davis conceded the obvious. “Great game. Tough ending,” he said. “On the last play their point guard penetrated to the key and threw up a shot that didn’t make it. They crashed the boards hard and tipped in the winning basket with two seconds remaining and we weren’t able to call a time out before time expired.”
Barnett led the scoring for the Falcons with 11 points, Anderson had 10, Blakey and Asay six each.
South Whidbey is 2-5 in league play, 4-8 overall. At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 30, the boys host the Turks from Sultan.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or email@example.com.