Losses don’t always have to be just a negative tally on a team’s overall record.
They can be teaching moments, if viewed in the right light.
South Whidbey girls basketball’s team maintained this perspective through a five-game losing streak that began on Dec. 28 and ended with a 41-23 rebound victory over Sultan on Jan. 12.
Despite whatever may be on the scoreboard, players and coaches have been encouraged by the team’s knack for staying focused and not giving up on defense.
“Our girls play hard every game which is all I can ask,” head coach Jeff Hanson said. “…Effort on defense is key. On some nights we’re going to shoot it better than other nights.”
“Some teams will shut down after they’re losing, but I feel like we put up a fight for the majority of the game,” added senior Mikayla Hezel.
South Whidbey (6-9 overall, 2-5 in Cascade Conference) is likely heading to the Class 1A District 1 tournament beginning on Feb. 5. The Falcons have all but secured the third seed with two wins over Sultan, but haven’t managed to beat King’s or Cedar Park Christian — the other two 1A teams in the league — this season; the top three teams from the 1A division of the league advance to the postseason.
Playing with enthusiasm against challenging teams is all the more important knowing that they’ll be in the playoffs, senior Kolby Heggenes said.
“I try to learn from every game and it’s something you can put into the offseason or districts,” Heggenes said. “When you go to districts, it’s not going to be easy teams. It’s just trying to take what you can from each individual team.”
Hanson believes the team has actually played above its own caliber in some games.
“I thought we played maybe even a little better than we should have or could have played against some of these teams who are pretty good,” Hanson said. “That’s pleasing to see. We’re getting better.”
The Falcons are without their two varsity posts, senior Mackenzee Collins and sophomore Lexi Starets-Foote, have been sidelined with injuries. It’s made contesting balls under the hoop and matching up physically with other tall players more challenging, Hezel said.
“That’s a huge part of playing,” Hezel said. “It’s a strong suit right there, so when you don’t have that, it puts on (pressure).
Freshman Ella Wood has stepped into the position, joining several other freshmen and sophomores like Emily Vanberg, Karyna Hezel and Emma Hodson who have been thrust into varsity play. Mikayla Hezel said she’s been impressed by their cool under pressure.
“It’s really fun to see them step up and have the attitude that they’re a varsity player,” Mikayla Hezel said. “They just have this attitude, ‘OK, I need to step up my game, this is varsity.’ They play tough in games which is good. It’s what you need.”
The Falcons have two home games left this season. They host Cedar Park Christian (Bothell) at 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26, followed by Granite Falls at 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 30.