A rugged start and a mid-game shooting slump derailed the South Whidbey High School girls basketball team in its 39-27 loss in the regular-season finale at Coupeville Tuesday, Feb, 4.
The Falcons (3-6, 9-11) finished fourth in the North Sound Conference and now head to Lynden Christian f(18-1) or the first round of the district tournament at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10.
The Lyncs, ranked second in the state 1A poll, are the Northwest Conference champions, a league that includes two 3A and eight 2A schools. Their only loss this season was to Woodinville, the undefeated and top-ranked 4A team.
South Whidbey coach Jeff Hanson noted the challenge of facing Lynden Christian, adding, “Going to district is a privilege. They (his players) earned that spot and no one can take that away.”
Regardless of the outcome of Monday’s game, South Whidbey will play again Tuesday, Feb. 5, in the eight-team, double-elimination tournament. The Falcons could face either Meridian (8-10), Mount Baker (11-8) or Cedar Park Christian (15-5).
The five top teams at district move on to the bi-district tournament.
Coupeville 39, South Whidbey 27
Coupeville’s pressure defense forced South Whidbey to turnover the ball in seven of its first nine possessions. The Falcons managed only a hoop by Arianna Briggs during the span and fell behind 16-2.
The cascade of turnovers was “uncharacteristic” of his club, Hanson said. “We have done pretty well against pressure all year.”
Fighting off the sloppy start, South Whidbey battled back into the game.
A bucket by Ella Wood, two free throws by Emma Hodson and a three-pointer from Liz Haines at the buzzer helped trim the Wolves’ lead to 16-9.
Forty-seven seconds into the second period, Wood scored again to make it 16-11. Then the Falcons went cold — ice cold. They would not make another field goal for nearly 10 minutes.
Isabelle Wood and Ella Wood did sink free throws in the second quarter as South Whidbey trailed 23-13 at the half.
Madi Knauer broke the long shooting drought with a field goal with 5:16 left in the third quarter. Unfortunately, another shooting slump followed, this one six minutes.
Knauer’s hoop were the Falcons’ only points in the third period and South Whidbey fell behind 33-15.
South Whidbey outscored Coupeville 12-6 in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late. Five Falcons scored in the comeback attempt, led by Knauer’s three-pointer.
Ella Wood finished the game with 7 points. Knauer had 5, Briggs 4, Hodson 4, Haines 3, Hadley Eager 2, Kayla Knauer 1 and Isabelle Wood 1.