Meridian torched South Whidbey with 11 three-pointers to put the Falcon boys basketball team’s season on the brink of ending after a 60-32 loss Monday night.
The Trojans excelled on their home court in the first round of the 1A District 1 tournament, buckling down defensively and forcing the Falcons into a pair of shot-clock violations and several empty possessions.
Up 32-21 by the start of the second half, the Trojans practically negated the Falcons’ offense, holding South Whidbey to only 11 points the rest of the game.
“They were really dialed in tonight,” said Falcon head coach Michael Washington in a post-game telephone interview.
“They made us work more, especially to get a shot,” he added.
Only Falcon senior Parker Collins scored in double digits, with a game-high 17 points. As has been the case much of the season, the Trojans’ defense keyed on Collins, South Whidbey’s main scorer. Washington said Collins was defended by at least a pair of players most of the game.
“They were doubling Parker every time he got the ball,” the Falcons’ coach said.
When these teams played in late December, Meridian defended its home court with a 57-48 win. In that game, Trojan senior Alex Martin slashed South Whidbey’s defense with quick moves to the hoop.
In an effort to stop Martin on Monday, Washington had South Whidbey start in a zone defense, forcing Meridian to take perimeter shots.
“My thought was make them beat us from the perimeter,” Washington said. “They shot the ball well.”
Trying a different strategy in the second half was too little, too late. Washington recalled one play that exemplified the kind of hot-shooting night Meridian had in the first round of the district tournament. With the shot clock expiring, a Meridian player got the ball in one of the corners, had a South Whidbey player close in to contest his position, and heaved up an off-kilter shot that fell through at the buzzer.
“They had one of those nights,” Washington said.
South Whidbey’s season will be put to the test when it plays again Thursday night, again as the visiting team. The Falcons play either Mount Baker or Lynden Christian, depending on who loses Tuesday night after The Record went to press.
Until then, the Falcons will regroup in practice with an emphasis on defensive intensity and focus, and shooting drills to improve the offensive flow.
“We’ve got to go through our stuff and run it, run it, run it, every day,” Washington said.