Archbishop Murphy withstood a three-point barrage from South Whidbey and left Langley with a 62-57 boys basketball win Tuesday night.
Cascade Conference’s second-place Wildcats (9-1 conference, 14-3 overall) needed a fourth-quarter rally, a loudly booed foul call and the Falcons’ failure to close out a tight game.
“What really cost us the game was a couple things: one, inexperience in terms of being able to close out games; two, their flat-out athletic ability to get to the rim,” said Falcon head coach Michael Washington.
“Overall, I think the better team won,” he added. “That’s what happens in those types of games. They’re legit.”
South Whidbey (4-7 conference, 7-10 overall) relied heavily on its three-point shooting. The Falcons had to against the long, athletic Wildcat defenders. It was a game where South Whidbey was either going to win or lose by the three-ball, and the Falcons went 11-for-27 from beyond the arc. The 27 three-point attempts were the most South Whidbey shot all season.
“I was surprised we shot so many,” Washington said, though noting that South Whidbey overall shot well, just not well enough against Archbishop Murphy.
Early, the Wildcats controlled the game and were poised to pull away with a solid lead. But a three-pointer with seconds left by Falcon junior Donovan Miller pulled South Whidbey to within three points going into the second quarter.
Both squads found more rhythm as the game went on. Falcon senior Parker Collins hit three of his six three-pointers in the second quarter to spark the offense; he finished with a game-high 20 points. His second three-pointer of the period sent the large South Whidbey crowd, bolstered by members of the recently-created parks and recreation middle school boys team, into a frenzy as the Falcons took a 22-21 lead.
“He had to shoot the three-ball last night,” Washington said. “They were doubling him everywhere he went.”
South Whidbey pulled ahead to a four-point lead on back-to-back layups by senior Chandler Sutton, who finished with 12 points, and a layup by freshman Lewis Pope.
But the Wildcats answered by closing out the first half on a 5-0 run to take a 31-30 lead.
Three-pointers returned for the Falcons in the third quarter. Collins’ long-range shot tied the game at 35-35, and Pope nailed one for a short-lived lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Falcons took the lead on Collins’ final three-pointer. That was padded by another distance shot by Miller for a 55-50 lead. Archbishop Murphy scrapped its way back into the game, working against South Whidbey’s zone defense with perimeter passing.
“Every time we went man-to-man, they scored,” Washington said of South Whidbey’s defense.
A late foul, loudly booed inside Erickson Gym, pushed the Wildcats into the lead, 60-57.
Trailing, the Falcons’ hurried offense failed to convert another basket and South Whidbey was forced to foul to stop the clock from running down. The Wildcats hit their final free throws for the 62-57 victory, securing the season sweep over the Falcons.
“I feel like we’re playing well,” Washington said. “My thing is I just hope we go down and maybe shock King’s, or if not shock them, at least compete and come away with a moral victory.”
Record editor Justin Burnett contributed to this report.