A rough stretch of games for South Whidbey’s girls basketball team this past week ended on a high note.
The Falcons beat island rival Coupeville 42-22 on Saturday, Dec. 9, following consecutive defeats to Archbishop Murphy on Dec. 5 and Cedarcrest on Dec. 8. South Whidbey (2-3 overall, 0-2 in the Cascade Conference) was outscored 112-29 in the two losses. Though it came at the hands of two undefeated teams, the margin of defeat was enough to shake the confidence of the Falcons. The feeling lingered into the first quarter against Coupeville, which jumped out to an early 6-0 lead.
“I think we were all just nervous and a little discouraged,” senior Kolby Heggenes said.
The Falcon players and coaches agreed that South Whidbey could have easily conceded and suffered another loss. But, as soon as it calmed down, South Whidbey turned things around. The Falcons held the Wolves to five points for the rest of the half, while their offense gained momentum.
“They came back and played really good on Saturday, took care of business and got better,” head coach Jeff Hanson said. “…It’s a great group of kids. Hopefully we can just keep building week by week. We could have just come in Saturday and rolled over, but we did exactly what we needed to do.”
Heggenes and senior Ally Lynch said the Falcons managed their possessions by making smart passes and limiting turnovers.
Sickness and injury have taken a toll on the Falcons’ lineup. Several players are battling through strep throat, while senior center Mackenzee Collins — who is one of the Falcons’ most experienced and tallest players at 6 feet — may be out for the season with a broken toe. Junior Lexi Starets-Foote, another 6-foot-tall center, has stepped into fill her roll, but the Falcons are also a young team; only three players from last year’s squad have significant varsity experience. New varsity players such as junior Fariss Jokinen, sophomore Kayla Knauer and sophomore Emily Vanberg will need time to adjust, Heggenes and Lynch said, while the team molds into a unit.
“We can’t replace her (Mackenzee),” Hanson said. “That’s the way it is. So, it’s going to take a team effort to replace her.”
Heggenes and senior Ally Lynch said despite the losses to Archbishop Murphy and Cedarcrest, there were lessons to be learned. Cedarcrest, for example, pressured the Falcons with a full-court press for the majority of the game. As difficult as it was to move the ball up the court, the Falcons embraced the fact that they would be better off learning how to overcome it.
“We can definitely learn from it,” Heggenes said. “We learned how to break that. That’s always good because we’re going to see it again. It’s not the last time. So, it’s definitely good practice.”
Lynch, who is also adjusting to her first year of significant varsity action, was encouraged by the Falcons’ willingness to improve in the face of adversity.
“We lost by a lot, but throughout the game we got better,” Lynch said. “That’s all we could ask for.”