Stifling defense leads way in Falcons’ Tiger taming

Falcon senior Abby Hodson shoots a mid-range jump shot over a couple of Tiger defenders. She led all scorers with 15 points in the blowout win for South Whidbey.

Behind a stingy defense and a red-hot offense, the Falcon girls basketball team scorched the Granite Falls Tigers 67-33 on Friday night.

South Whidbey (4-6 Cascade Conference, 4-10 overall) held Granite Falls (0-10 conference, 1-15 overall) to just two points in the first quarter. The 67 points were by far the most scored all season by the Falcons; their second-highest total is 52.

Through the first half, the Falcons took a 32-14 lead that they extended to 22 points by the third quarter before putting it away with a 34-point victory.

Of the 11 Falcons who touched the court, eight of them scored. Sophomore Kacie Hanson led the way with a game-high 15 points, including the first four of the game. Abby Hodson, a senior, muscled her way to 13 points, eight of which came in the second half.

After an early bucket by Tiger senior Makenzie McLaughlin, the Falcons closed out the quarter on a 14-point run. Ben Watanabe / The Record | Falcon sophomore Kinsey Eager tries to split Granite Falls defenders Madalyn Massena and Courtney Lewis on Jan. 23 at South Whidbey High School.

Granite Falls got into double digits with a little more than two minutes before halftime when McLaughlin hit the front end of a one-and-one free throw. The Falcons, however, went on a tear and poured in another nine points to take a 32-14 lead at the break.

Every time the Tigers seemed poised to make a run, the Falcons stole the ball or hit their free throws.

Trying to pressure the Falcons, the Tigers used a full-court press. Falcon freshman guard Mikayla Hezel dribbled her way through the defenders, passed to freshman Mackenzie Collins for a layup and a foul shot, which she made.

Defensively, the Tigers held the Falcons in check in the third quarter. South Whidbey had its lowest eight-minute period with 13 points, compared to 16 in the first and second quarters, and 22 in the fourth. But trailing by 12 points and with sophomore post Hayley Hansen in foul trouble early led the Tigers to attempt perimeter shots. The Falcons continued to move the ball along the perimeter against the Tigers’ set defense, working from sideline to sideline until someone found themselves open near the basket — often Hodson.

By the fourth quarter, the Falcons had swapped out many of the starters, leading to some shining moments for the reserve players. Even then, momentum continued in South Whidbey’s favor.

Three-point shooting, which has been hit and miss with South Whidbey this season, was integral to the Falcons’ barrage. The Falcons connected on four three-pointers, including a pair by sophomore Bayley Forsyth.

Fighting to ensure a spot in the 1A District 1 tournament, the Falcons lead the Sultan Turks (3-7 conference, 4-12 overall) by one win.