Rallies fall flat for Falcon girls basketball

Falcon sophomore Kinsey Eager passes to the perimeter after looking for an interior shot against Cedarcrest on Jan. 9 at South Whidbey High School.

Free throws proved to be the difference for Cedarcrest’s girls basketball team in a 42-41 come-from-behind victory over South Whidbey on Friday night.

They were again crucial Monday against island rival Coupeville in a 43-32 loss.

In Coupeville, the Falcons’ offense fell flat for long stretches punctuated by a few brilliant bursts. Trailing by 17 points late in the third quarter, South Whidbey scored 11 points in 90 seconds, including a pair of threes from sophomore Emily Turpin, a three from sophomore Kacie Hanson and a two-pointer.

Early in the fourth quarter, Falcon sophomore Kinsey Eager scored and made a free throw, followed by another Hanson three to cut the lead to 37-31 with 2:23 left in the game.

South Whidbey failed to score another basket after that, finishing with one free throw, three turnovers and three missed shots as Coupeville hit six straight free throws in the final minute to secure the Wolves’ win and the Falcons sixth consecutive loss.

Last week, Cedarcrest’s players committed themselves to driving to the basket for layups and fouls. Sometimes they got both, chipping away at South Whidbey’s lead in the third and fourth quarters. But Cedarcrest hit five of its eight free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter.

The Red Wolves rallied from an eight-point deficit with four minutes left and regained the lead with 1:24 left in the game. Offensive rebounding became a critical edge for the Red Wolves late in the game. Cedarcrest (2-3 Cascade Conference, 4-6 overall) capitalized on several second-chance opportunities, including the go-ahead basket that came after a missed shot on a putback by Red Wolf sophomore Kennedy Howell, who finished with a team-high 10 points.

South Whidbey recovered from a sluggish second quarter and surged into halftime. Trailing 20-9 with 3:32 left in the second quarter, the Falcons got going after junior Morgan Davis banked in a pair of three-pointers. The Falcons’ defense held together to cut the lead 20-15 at the break.

From the first play of the second half, the Falcons looked to have held their momentum. Sophomore Kinsey Eager, who led all scorers with 14 points, hit a short jump shot just seconds into play. She scored the next two baskets for South Whidbey to tie the score at 23-23.

Abby Hodson, a Falcon senior, stayed busy defensively by tipping and stealing several passes, including one that led to a driving layup to take the lead, the Falcons’ first of the game nearly 21 minutes into the match.

Creating turnovers extended the Falcons’ lead through the rest of the third quarter. Another Hodson steal led to a Mackenzie Collins layup that pushed their lead to four points.

But the Red Wolves would not go quietly, and roared back with defensive pressure of their own to tie the game at 27-27 until another Eager layup put South Whidbey on top at the end of the period.

The Falcons nearly had the game sealed with an eight-point lead midway through the final quarter. Cedarcrest’s offensive attack caught South Whidbey’s aggressive defenders and put the Red Wolves at the line for free throws.

South Whidbey finished with nine-of-17 free-throw shooting, and Cedarcrest with 10 of 17 in a one-point victory for the Red Wolves. After missing a pair of three throws, Eager scored on an inbounds play to retake the lead 41-40 with 42 seconds remaining. Howell answered with a pick-and-roll layup, leaving South Whidbey with seconds for a shot at the victory, but Eager’s attempt missed and a desperation jumper by Davis bounced off the rim, securing Cedarcrest’s win and South Whidbey’s fifth straight loss.