A revitalized South Whidbey girls basketball team climbed out of the league cellar with a smashing 64-41 win over Granite Falls on Friday.
They did it with an equal measure of inspired defense and shooting accuracy.
Oh, and one more thing.
“We were just sick of losing,” Falcon Allison Wood said. “The last practice before the game was very intense and we took that with us onto the court.”
The win moved the Falcons up a notch at 3-9 (7-11 overall) and the Tigers down one.
Before the game, Falcon coach Henry Pope thanked Granite Falls for their help Jan. 11 when Samantha Pope suffered a season-ending leg injury. Pope presented Tiger coach Mark Neuman with a scented candle and said it represented the best in good sportsmanship.
“It was a thoughtful and appropriate thing for Henry to do,” Wood said.
Lindsey Newman set the tone for South Whidbey with a three-pointer and Cayla Calderwood followed with several fine layups. Both sides were testing each other and it was 10-5 at the first break.
The last time they met, Tiger Jacque Goss was the bane of the Falcons’ existence, scoring 18 points. Karissa Thomas and Reilly O’Sullivan took on the job of stopping Goss and they succeeded.
“We’ve doing a lot of conditioning work, lots of running,” O’Sullivan said. “That and a better attitude helped us a lot, especially stopping Goss. They got a little mean and pushed us so we pushed back.”
Goss posted four points on the night.
Another factor that helped was all-around better ball handling and passing, plus an emphasis on management of the 30-second clock. The Tigers were not overly-accomplished shooters and their frustration was obvious.
By the half, the girls had pulled ahead 34-16, thanks in part to the big, supportive home crowd.
Of course, many were on hand to watch the Primary School’s Little Jump Ropers demonstration at halftime — they were superb, every one — but the game caught their attention and many stayed to the end.
Thomas’ fast break and reverse layup off the backboard as the third quarter began helped galvanize the Falcons. Natasha Roberts, Katie Holt, Melanie Murphy, Chantal LaChaussee and Rachel Harris played some of their best basketball of the year.
Hey, when you’re hot, you’re hot.
Newman’s fast break with 3:10 left in the third period pushed the Falcons to 40-23 and there was no looking back. Newman had been working on the long ball in practice, thrown from one basket to the other to an unguarded teammate. The play didn’t work according to plan but twice the recipient was fouled and picked up two.
Newman dropped a trey just before time ran out to make it 51-25 as the fourth got under way.
The Falcons continued showing fine team coordination and coasted to the 64-41 win.
“They took the shots a lot better tonight, that’s for sure,” Pope said. “I felt the excitement in the locker room before they came out.”
“I shot more than usual and spent time fixing my shot selection and letting my arm follow through better,” she said.
Newman was happy to assist her mates.
“I really wanted to win tonight,” she said. “We didn’t expect to beat them by that much but our defense was terrific.”
Newman finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals. Calderwood had 16 points and seven rebounds, Wood had nine points and seven rebounds and Thomas contributed five points.