Despite losing a 10-point lead, South Whidbey’s boys basketball team held on for a 66-64 win over Lakewood on Tuesday night for the Falcons’ second straight win.
The team survived a furious Cougar charge in the final four minutes and secured its first winning streak of the season. With four minutes left, a pair of Ricky Muzzy free throws put the Falcons up 61-52.
Lakewood hit a trio of three-pointers and made a layup with a free throw to cut the lead to two points with five seconds remaining.
The Cougars tried to force a turnover on the ensuing inbound play, but Falcon head coach Mike Washington called time out before the five-second violation to reset the offense and avoid the penalty. Out of the huddle, the Falcons got the ball to senior Parker Collins who was promptly fouled. Usually sure-handed at the line, Collins missed the first shot of a one-and-one attempt, giving Lakewood possession with three seconds on the clock.
Lakewood head coach Anthony Wiederkehr called a timeout to draw up a play, but South Whidbey’s defense forced the Cougars to put the ball in reserve Sean Dawson’s hands for a three-quarter court heave that sailed wide as time expired.
“We knew they were going to go on a run,” said Falcon junior Donovan Miller, who finished with nine points on three three-pointers all in the first quarter. “We just had to play good defense in the fourth quarter, and they started hitting the fourth quarter. That’s why it was a close game.”
South Whidbey opened the match with torrid scoring. Miller hit the first shot of the game, a corner three-pointer, and followed it up with another one a minute later. His last and final shot was a three from the top of the arc to put South Whidbey ahead 12-6.
“We just kind of ran our plays,” Miller said. “I was open so I got it.”
“I’ve been working on setting my feet.”
Lakewood made several runs, including a five-point stretch in the final 30 seconds of the first half. Trailing 10 points, Lakewood connected on a pair of free throws and a last-second layup to cut the lead to eight points.
Out of the break, Lakewood got into a groove from the perimeter with a pair of three-pointers by senior Hunter Fritz, who scored all 12 of his points in the third quarter.
South Whidbey refused to panic and continued to drive to the hoop. The Falcons’ first 10 points in the third quarter came on layups.
Defensively, the Falcons’ lanky players hounded the Cougars, including a pair of blocks by senior Chandler Sutton, though none were perhaps as important as one late in the game.
“That’s ’cause he said hands up, and he meant it,” said Sutton, who led all scorers with 21 points.
Tuesday’s game was a continuation of Sutton’s emergence as a second scoring threat for South Whidbey. Previously, the Falcons relied heavily on senior Parker Collins, who finished with 19 points. The pair combined for 50 points the night before and accounted for 40 of the Falcons’ 66 points Tuesday.
“Coach has been motivating me a lot to work on my grades,” said Sutton of his playing time and increased on-court production. “The past three seasons I really struggled with my grades. I’ve just been working in class and getting really focused to get out here.”
Later, Sutton added: “Coach’s intensity in practice is pretty crazy some times, but definitely practice helps a lot.”
Free-throw shooting continued to be an issue for South Whidbey, which went 12-for-20 at the line including missing a pair of late one-and-one tries. Lakewood hit 12 of its 16 attempts.
Heading into Friday’s game at Sultan, which carried postseason implications because the Turks are 1A along with the Falcons and the league leading King’s Knights, as well as Cedar Park Christian, South Whidbey’s players said defense would be the emphasis in practice and in the Cascade Conference contest.
“It feels good when you got two wins, a streak,” Sutton said. “We didn’t have a win on the road at all … Hopefully we can keep that momentum going.”