If you heard a whistle blown at one of South Whidbey girls basketball’s games last season, there’s a strong chance it was on the Falcons.
The Falcons led the Cascade Conference in fouls. And no, the players weren’t throwing elbows to draw the fouls; they were traveling or committing penalties without physical contact with their opponents.
The issue has become a major focus during the preseason for the Falcons, as head coach Andy Davis has kept a keen eye on the players to ensure South Whidbey doesn’t lead the foul category again.
“We’ve been scrimmaging every single day for 10 minutes as a regular part of the practice and Andy is now calling fouls more than he has last time,” Eager said.
“He’s calling it and making us think about it before we go out,” added senior Kacie Hanson.
While fouls have been a concern, depth and experience are not.
Minus graduated senior Morgan Davis, the Falcons are the same group that reached the district tournament last season and nearly beat Nooksack Valley in the first round.
The Falcons’ varsity roster has six seniors and four juniors, most of whom saw plenty of time on the court last season.
“We know what we have to do this time to get there and to progress further than we did before,” Hanson said.
Players said that getting their legs back underneath them and jumping off to quicker starts during scrimmages have been the focus of the preseason thus far. Because of their experience, Hanson said the Falcons have also become more adept at improvising during game situations.
“I think we’re all excited because this is the first year we’ve had a big group of upper classmen,” said senior Megan Drake. “That’s definitely something we’re looking forward to. We’ve kind of had some building years in the past, but this year I think we’re ready to go out and battle.”
Andy Davis, who was voted as coach of the year by his peers after the 2015-16 season, said there’s a lot that’s promising about the team.
“They’re great kids, one, as students and people,” Davis said. “They work hard. They love each other and like hanging out with each other. All those are really positive things. And they like basketball.”
Davis said the Falcons’ had a strong offseason during the summer and were able to beat bigger-sized schools during scrimmages. He thinks the Falcons have a chance to compete with any team they face, but sees South Whidbey fitting in somewhere below conference opponents King’s in the league’s Class 1A division.
He added that all 11 players on the varsity roster have a chance to be contributors this season. They will be without one of those players at the start of the season due to a violation of team rules. One other girl on the junior varsity team has also been suspended from sports. Both penalties are for one week.
“Our goal is to compete with everybody,” Davis said. “They’re all going to have a chance to be contributors, and we’re obviously going to lean on the leadership of the seniors because they’ve kind of been there and done that. But they’re all important.”
Hanson said she has her eyes set on reaching state.
“I think this team can do it,” Hanson said.