Lighthearted attitudes to carry, foster team spirit | WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW

The uplifting and sometimes goofy personality of a now-graduated Falcon teammate stayed with the Falcon girls basketball team this season.

Junior Kinsey Eager passes the ball during team drills at South Whidbey High School while preparing for the season opener at Coupeville on Dec. 2.

The uplifting and sometimes goofy personality of a now-graduated Falcon teammate stayed with the Falcon girls basketball team this season.

Abby Hodson provided a relaxed mood for the Falcons, which head coach Andy Davis said made last season a “wonderful year,” was so powerful that the team has essentially replicated it every day in practice. The loose atmosphere has led to a tight knit group of teammates for the Falcons.

With a goal to have fun and win games, the team’s vision of this season is clear.

“I mean, obviously, we want to go further into the postseason than we’ve ever gone before, I think that’s every team’s goal,” said junior Megan Drake. “But, honestly, our goal is just to have fun. It is a lot of fun. Just this first week, it’s been really exciting and I think it’s been a really good first week of practice.”

South Whidbey finished 5-16 overall and 4-10 in the Cascade Conference in 2014. The Falcons prepared for the season by training during the offseason and attending a summer basketball camp.

“We’re starting off better than what we have in the past just because we’ve done so much more stuff in the offseason,” said senior Morgan Davis. “We’re not stepping in the first day, months out of practice.”

The Falcons’ depth will be a strong point for the team this season.

“We can go into the first game right now with 12 or 13 girls ready to go, right now, at the varsity level,” coach Davis said. “The drop off from the very best person to the 13th person isn’t significant. It’s crazy how competitive we can be at practice.”

The Falcon coach attributed the balance of skill level on the team to the girls’ effort and investment into the program. There are also three girls on the team — Morgan Davis, Kacie Hanson, and Mikayla Hezel — who are the daughters of assistant coaches, which has increased the level of access for all of the players to the gym and weight room.

During early season practices, the Falcons relied on freshmen and sophomores to help push the varsity upperclassmen starters during practice. Junior Kinsey Eager said the underclassmen learned quickly during team scrimmages, blurring the lines between varsity and junior varsity.

“They’re learning so fast,” Eager said. “I think that’s the best way to learn — just by playing out there with us.”

The Falcons finished second to last in the league standings last season, but hope to gain some ground this season with their depth and team cohesion. King’s and Archbishop Murphy will likely retain their mantle as the conference’s top contenders, but they won’t be as high above South Whidbey as in years past, Morgan Davis said. The rest of the conference is wide open.

“If we play hard and just go out there every single game and work our butts off, we’ll be right up there with everyone else, which will be really cool because then it’s just competition all the time,” Eager said.

The Falcons are holding a fundraiser Dec. 5 in conjunction with the boys team, in which a mattress company will sell name-brand mattresses for a low cost and donate a portion of the profit to the program. School districts around the region have made thousands of dollars doing similar fundraisers, coach Davis said.

The girls will also help the Rotary Club sell Christmas trees at Sebo’s Do-it Center in Bayview, where the program will receive some of the profit.

2015 Falcon girls basketball schedule

7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2 Coupeville

5:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4 Friday Harbor

TBD Saturday, Dec. 5 “Tip Off Classic” Friday Harbor

5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9 Sultan

5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11 Archbishop Murphy*

5 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15 Cedar Park Christian*

5:15 p.m. Thursday Dec. 17 Kings

TBD Saturday Dec. 19 Neah Bay*

6:45 p.m. Monday, Dec. 21 La Conner*

6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5 Granite Falls

6:45 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7 Bellevue Christian

5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8 Cedarcrest*

6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12 Archbishop Murphy

6:30 p.m. Friday Jan. 15 Lakewood

5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19 King’s*

6:45 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22 Sultan*

6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26 Cedarcrest

5:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29 Cedar Park Christian

5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2 Lakewood*

6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5 Granite Falls

* Home games

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