Second-half rally carries Falcon girls over Turks

Falcon sophomore Emily Turpin squeezes between Sultan’s Bailey Brierbrauer and Hanna Brierbrauer on Jan. 16 at South Whidbey High School.

Facing the prospect of its seventh consecutive loss, the South Whidbey girls basketball team buckled down on defense late, hit some crucial three-point shots and rallied to defeat Sultan 44-41 Friday night.

Things looked bright for the Turks early, as Sultan (2-6 Cascade Conference, 3-11 overall) held South Whidbey to only two points in the first quarter. South Whidbey (3-5 conference, 3-9 overall) cobbled together an offense on the back of its defensive stops. By halftime, the Turks led 23-15 and appeared poised to cruise and secure the season sweep of the Falcons.

But South Whidbey freshman Mikayla Hezel got hot in the second half, hitting three of her three-pointers. Two of those outside shots tied the score, including one near the end of the third quarter that knotted the game at 30 points a piece.

South Whidbey gained its first lead of the night on a three-pointer from sophomore Kacie Hanson with 5:53 left in the game.

Sultan crept back by focusing its effort near the basket. The Turks got six points in a three-minute stretch to retake the lead at 39-38 with 1:30 left.

Falcon sophomore Megan Drake followed a missed jump shot with a layup to take the lead for the final time. After a Turk miss, Falcon sophomore Kinsey Eager hit a free throw to cushion South Whidbey’s lead to three points with 30 seconds remaining.

The Turks came within a point after a short jump shot by sophomore Emilee Buzzell. With eight seconds left, the Turks tried a full-court press on the Falcons’ inbound pass. Falcon head coach Andy Davis drew up a play to have Drake sneak out past midcourt for a long pass from Eager, who hit her perfectly in stride for an open layup and a 44-41 lead. Sultan’s final shot was blocked, securing South Whidbey’s first win of 2015.

Eager led the Falcons with 14 points, followed by Hezel’s 12 and Hanson’s eight.

The Turks were led by sophomore Bailey Bierbrauer’s 16 points, a game high, and senior Chrishelle Sentman’s 15.