In their first four games, the South Whidbey boys basketball team was gaining a reputation for being slow starters and big finishers.
But against Sultan in Erickson Gym on Tuesday, the Falcons started slow and stayed that way as the Turks won 50-38 behind leading scorer Jordan Nicholes.
“We didn’t have a good night offensively,” Falcon guard Scott Stallman said.
“We just couldn’t get a rhythm going. Have to do better than make 38 points per game in this league to win. Defensively we did better,” he said.
The Falcons are 1-1 in the Cascade Conference and 3-2 overall. Sultan is 1-1 and 2-4 overall.
The score was tied at the end of the first quarter and South Whidbey was down by only two, 16-14, at the half as both teams engaged in a defensive contest.
“I don’t think Sultan really respected us as shooters and they stopped our guard’s dribble penetration,” Falcon coach Scott Collins said.
“They did a good job defensively, but we didn’t play our best basketball and they beat us.”
Collins stated the obvious when he said the Falcons missed a ton of open shots and free throws.
“We struggled getting the ball inside as they were fronting and collapsing on Parker Barnett,” Collins said.
South Whidbey held Nicholes — who came onto the court averaging 29 points per game — to six at halftime and 13 total going into the fourth quarter.
But then the Falcons started making mental mistakes and fouls; 6-foot-3 forward Barnett was benched and Nicholes scored nine of his
13 fourth-quarter points from the free-throw line.
He finished the night with 26 for the Turks; below his average but good enough.
“Overall, I was disappointed in our effort and performance; we expect our kids to play much better than we did against Sultan,” Collins said.
“However, I am very proud of the progress we’ve made this early in the season. Christmas break will allow us to rest, and then get into the gym and work on fine tuning some things we like to do offensively,” he added.
Barnett felt the coach’s pain.
“It was a rough game for us,” Barnett said. “Toward the end we got down on ourselves and started fouling. There was a lot of frustration when we got behind and couldn’t catch up; I certainly was frustrated with things.”
Barnett and Adam Hosmer had 10 points each for the Falcons while Scott Stallman sank nine.
Over the holiday break, both boys and girls basketball teams travel to the “Crush in the Slush” tournament in Port Townsend.
From Dec. 27 to 29, the tournament brings together 14 high school varsity teams to
Port Townsend from around western Washington, including two traveling teams from Australia, with 150 players and at least that many spectators and fans of great high school basketball.
“It’s a great chance to get in some quality court time before league action starts up again,” Barnett said. “And we have a few things to work on.”